How My Poltergeist Saved the Day

[Brindlekin Tales – Book 7: Chapter 14]

O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)

Subject: Re: Another Amazing Meetup
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 27, 2023 at 8:32 PM

> Boy, he sure has you runnin’ up and down those stairs!

The exercise is good for me, but more importantly: small sacrifice to pay for the pups’ happiness.

> It’s good to imagine him sleeping on a bed under a roof, doggies alongside.

It certainly is, and I also gave him a new sleeping bag so the doggies can have super fluffy comfort in their new digs.

> You can take full credit for it. None of it would have happened without your unwavering patience, courage, forbearance, gumption, stick-to-it-iveness and Bo-dee-sat-va premise!!!

Thank you. And it looks like Deek knows that, too…considering his vastly improved behavior since he’s moved into a tiny cabin village. The many challenges he’s hurled at me have only served to make me a better person, thanks to applying My Premise. And it’s the boundless love of Flaco & Lucky that made this fairy tale come true. An incredible story that would make O. Henry proud.

Tomorrow’s another stupid bed bug treatment day, so I’ll be outside in the cold, damp weather for five hours or so. But knowing how well things are turning out for Deek and brindlekin warms my heart so much, even THAT won’t dampen my spirit.

– Zeke K-Holmes

Subject: Rain, Bedbugs and Scooter
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 27, 2023 at 10:36 PM

Attached is a screenshot of today’s text message to Paolo, the exterminator.

Since the building manager is “in absentia” I must be there to unlock my door, then remain until Paolo departs, to lock it. That’s about a twenty minute wait while I loiter in the hallway, but a gross inconvenience for me, and invasion of my privacy. The LAST thing I wanted regarding pest treatment was to be around when the exterminator arrives, but look what’s happened Wattson: I have no choice. Kevin’s evil shadow stretches o’erlong. The shabby condition of my room is a humiliation for me to bear when it comes to unwelcome visitors:

“Here’s where I live: step right on in, don’t be alarmed.”

There is also the matter of dealing with someone not-so-bright, face to face. The kind of people I do my best to avoid, but there ya go: they’re FORCED upon me on a FREQUENT basis. This includes, of course, Kevin himself and the maintenance fellow, as well as Paolo.

Bad enough to have to conceal my low income status without having people financially better off enter my room. Not to mention this lawsuit which ALSO demands I expose my poverty to an audience in order to win my case and have the hounds return. An audience that perhaps is of the conservative (even Republican) ilk who scorn and abuse the disadvantaged every chance they get…including the judge who will most likely be pro-landlord. Then there’s Scooter:

He’s back to whistling and hollering up at Karlsen’s window these past few days. Today he’s come by the building at least five times, disturbing the peace. And forcing me to step away from my window ’cause I don’t need the prick to stare up at me. Feels like I’m being stalked and, in a way, I am. Two nights ago as I stepped inside after tending to Deek and pups, Scooter came down the stairs right when I entered the gate. So I was coerced into the unpleasant situation of holding the gate open as he exited. He was just too close for me to let the gate close; I’d’ve had to force it shut with my hand. Which COULD trigger hostility directed at yours truly anyway, so again I had no choice. Here’s a sound byte of his whistling and calling up to Karlsen:

Now, imagine him doing that repeatedly three or four times, five or six bouts a day, sometimes late at night! He has the entry code so why doesn’t he just come inside and knock on the skanky, faux Bohemian’s door? It would spare us all his piercing whistles and boisterous hoots. I suspect Kevin’s poor decision to rent to Karlsen was inspired by his senility.

It’s been very cold and rainy all day, with the occasional break. Some thunder now and then, not much. I imagine tomorrow will be the same, and I’ll have to be outside to suffer it. Hope I don’t get struck by lightning…that was a whopper two nights ago, so close to my window! Again, no choice, FORCED on me. But at least I don’t have to worry about the hounds. And now we have no hot water, which started a week ago. At first the water was cold in the morning but later in the day it was hot. Gradually we’d get less hot water each day, until today it’s been nothing BUT cold! So I probably won’t even be able to take a hot shower before I leave my room to the exterminator.

Marshall’s reading of my latest tale was superb as usual, so I’m glad for that. And this just happened (another reason I don’t care to wander the streets anymore, besides the cold rain):

Heavy gunfire in broad daylight reported in SF’s SoMa

But I guess to make up for such bad news there is a link at the bottom about radiant heaters (speaking of Darly, which we weren’t). It includes a list of recommended ones to buy, down to $50. I like the Pelonis brand for $80 ’cause it has three heat settings: 1500, 900 and 600 watts. The lower the wattage, the lower the electricity bill. All the others seem to be 1500 watts only.

– Zeke K-Holmes


Add to my miseries the leaking radiator valve, which I had resolved some months back by replacing the smaller plastic tub with a larger one. So I’d no longer have to get up at a wee hour to empty it, to prevent possible overflow. But this was before the Great Deluge starting in late December and ending by mid-January. Because ever since, the radiator’s been active 24/7 due to the manager being on his death bed, so he can’t turn the radiator OFF during the daytime.

The large tub was great because I need not worry about it filling up every few hours…it would take a whole six hours or nothing at all if the weather wasn’t cold enough to activate the radiator. But now that it’s constantly on I have to empty that bin several times a day, and twice at night! So instead of making my life a bit easier by using a larger tub, I’m having to empty it much more often than I did with the smaller one.

And to make matters worse, when I’m away for five hours due to bedbug treatment, the tub COULD overflow if I don’t remember to empty it just before stepping out. But even if I do, there is STILL some risk it will fill up sooner than that, and spill over. As I said once before, and I’ll say it again:

“Kevin’s evil shadow stretches o’erlong.”

Subject: Besides the heavy gun fire incident South of Market…
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 28, 2023 at 10:45 AM

…this, MUCH closer to home (on the other side of Duboce Park):

Armed Robbers Stormed His Packed San Francisco Coffee Shop. Now He Wants Action.

So much for my days hanging out in cafes, along with exploring the various neighborhoods when the street scene was my social life for decades (along with coffeehouses). The pandemic put a big kibosh on the cafes, and this increased violence on the streets has put the final nail in the coffin.

Another bedbug treatment day where I’m pushed outside into the cold and rainy elements. There is only a Starbucks to hang out in the Inner Sunset, now that Tart to Tart is shut down. Maybe I’ll just be a ghost wandering around the Castro for five hours…and spend some time in the Harvey Milquetoast Library where I’ll have to guard my Chromebook with my life, what with scary vagrants occupying the space. Stinky, too. Fights break out there sometimes. Then around the corner on Market Street is Peet’s Coffee, which will probably be too crowded to find a seat. And possibly an armed robbery or two for the price of a hot cocoa.

At least I’ll stay warm and dry thanks to my galoshes, rain pants and that lovely raincoat Deek #2 gave me some weeks back.

Time for me to rent a spiffy studio apartment in virtual reality in a nice, virtual district with nothing but friendly virtual residents, over half of which will be AI generated and have nothing but stupid things to say, like so many REAL humans. It’s enough to turn a person with any brains and heart into a virtual serial killer, stalking the GUI chat rooms for their next victim. Among Us!

Don’t even know if Paolo (the exterminator) will show up at all, it’s just on our maintenance man Victor’s word…who did NOT knock on my door yesterday. Instead I had to track him down and ask if he set things up with Paolo. He said he did, for 2 PM the next day. But what if Victor shows up much later than planned, or doesn’t show up at all? At any rate I will no longer heat treat most of my bedding and clothes ahead of time, but just bag ’em for later, AFTER my room has been fumigated and sprayed. That way, any time Paolo doesn’t show up I won’t have to spend more money and time heat treating everything all over again. I’ll just unbag half the stuff and schedule another appointment. This way I’ll only have to heat treat (again) what I’m going to wear for the next one, two or three days until I get around to treating all bagged items. Jeez Louise!

I offered to give Paolo my phone number since Victor never touches bases with me like he used to (until the building manager accused me of going over his head). But he turned it down, saying he has WAY too many contacts on his smartphone as it is! So if Victor calls him to say he has to postpone Zeke’s treatment due to an extenuating circumstance, Victor may not be around to knock on my door…and he won’t be able to call or text me about it. So I’ll be sitting in my dank hovel with everything bagged and stashed on my loft, like I’m preparing to move out…until, I guess, 5 or 6 PM when I can reasonably assume the exterminator’s not gonna show up. In such a case I WILL text him about it, just to put it on record. For it may come in handy for strengthening my possible lawsuit against Ablahblah Realty. In sum:

Too many stupid people run this world, from the top on down…and being forced to deal with those kind so often is a royal pain in the keister.

But the pups are sheltered and cozy, and that’s all that counts in my world.

– Zeke K-Holmes

Re: Besides the heavy gun fire incident South of Market…
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 28, 2023 at 1:34 PM

> One of the worst aspects of poverty is the way it wastes a person’s time. That’s my experience, anyway.

You’re kept busy by bullshit. People think I live a life of leisure because I receive a gov’t stipend instead of having to work. When the truth is: were it not for the fluke of occupying an inexpensive single room when rent control hit I’d’ve been tossed onto the streets long ago, and probably died shortly thereafter…possibly at the hand of homophobes. And of course prejudices against the poor are egregious, including within the queer community. Thus, my present debacle triggered by the idiot building manager. Senile or not, his animosity towards me as a long term, low income renter has been simmering for years…along with that from certain obnoxious residents.

– Zeke K-Holmes

P.S.: Welp, gotta get ready to depart soon…back this evening.

Subject: Not so bad after all…
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: February 28, 2023 at 3:27 PM

…in fact, Paolo was most amicable and only took 15 minutes to treat my room while I sat in the side hallway reading an ebook on my backup smartphone. I will be able to return hovel by 7 PM. I actually like this arrangement better, as neither of us has to deal with a demented middleman. Now I’m at boring Peet’s coffeehouse on my fabulous Chromebook and enjoying a cuppa English breakfast tea and a scone with lemon icing: $6.59, I almost had a <3 attack. I’m close to the front door, so if there’s an armed robbery I might be able to slip out. What an adventure! Slash ess.

– Zeke K-Holmes, most boring detective in this quadrant of hyperspace

Subject: The Mystery of Two Curious Incidents Regarding Yesterday’s Extermination
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: March 1, 2023 at 10:53 AM

While I waited in the side hall for Paolo to do his thing spraying my hovel I heard the fukkin smoke alarm go off! Just a series of three beeps, then a 20 second pause…repeated three times. Then went through that cycle once more about 10 minutes later. When the job was done and he stepped out the alarm went off yet again, so I asked him:

“Is that gonna go on all day?”

“No, just for a little while longer,” he replied.

“Well I hope Victor doesn’t hear that and rush in to see what’s up!” I exclaimed.

“No worries,” he replied. “Everyone’s smoke alarm goes off when I treat their units. He knows about it.”

But get this, Wattson: THE SMOKE ALARM’S BEEN OUT OF COMMISSION FOR MONTHS NOW, ever since I switched it off! As you remember. And you can’t just switch it back on, you have to replace it, which I did not. Of course I never informed him of that “alarming” fact, since it certainly worked in my favor. No more Paolo reporting to the building manager that I need a replacement, thus averting a nightmare cycle of one new, useless smoke alarm after another, waking me up late at night with its pointless shrieking. So:


Upon returning hovel the smoke alarm was silent, and has remained so thus far. Now, regarding the second curious incident:

First thing I did when I stepped inside was to open the windows. Second thing was to check the tub that catches water from the radiator leak. IT WAS EMPTY, DRY AS A BONE. THE RADIATOR WAS TURNED OFF! Please note that I already have it turned off locally (and have since time immemorial), but heat still emanates and the valve still leaks, regardless. Therefore, Paolo had nothing to do with it (and why would he), hence I must conclude that the water source for ALL radiators in the building has been turned off by the main valve somewhere in the catacomb depths…either by mishap or intentionally.

Perhaps this has something to do with the hot water heater, and is now undergoing maintenance. Do they use a separate heater for the radiators? I have no idea, as I’ve never had the grand opportunity to explore the bowels of Hotel California North. (Probably just as well, as I’ve heard that those who do, rarely return. BTW I now have steady hot water again for my sink, as of last night…though this could change at any moment, so don’t be complacent).

Normally–were Kevin not “in absentia”–he’d’ve tacked a notice to that effect in the lobby, as well as in the hallway on each floor, right by the stairs. But these are not normal times, and all residents remain in the dark (and the cold, I might add)…though probably greatly relieved over his imminent demise, nonetheless. I was fine with just a T-shirt and a thin sweater when I went to bed atop two folded sleeping bags and one for cover: warm but not toasty (exactly how I like it). But towards 3 AM the cold woke me up. A problem easily solved, though, by donning a thick coat, shutting BOTH windows (instead of just one) and turning on my space heater after moving it closer to my catafalque of a cot.

I’d MUCH rather put up with this icy cold than have an active radiator you can never turn off, even when the weather’s already over-warm. My room’s like a sauna then (my windows face the sun all day), and every building manager that’s run this place has never seen fit to do anything about it, in spite of my numerous pleas. I even sometimes BEG to have my radiator removed, since my little space heater is sufficient…but even though some have said “okay” they’ve never gotten around to it. (FYI: single room occupants don’t pay utilities, so an electric bill is not a concern, other than for the multimillionaire property owner of course.)

I presume this unit-heating imbalance is because single rooms (and there are three on each floor) heat up readily, while the larger units (a.k.a. “real apartments”) require more warmth to stave off the cold, especially on windy nights. And when it comes to radiators it’s a communal situation wherein all units are treated the same…at the cost of misery for residents like me! The worst period is when the weather transitions into springtime, for reasons I’m sure you can figure out yourself, good physician. After that, as summer nears, the radiators ARE actually turned off. Until late fall when, once again, misery is my lot for at least several weeks until the damp, cold ocean air truly kicks in. Be that as it may:

The unanticipated beeping of the smoke alarm and my radiator turning off copacetically saved the day! Is this possibly yet aNOTHER bodhisattva clue they’re toying with me…with the maintenance man and the exterminator playing their own little roles? Hilarious. And most hopeful to boot. About an hour after returning hovel I texted Paolo this animated gif, for the sake of goodwill:

Re: The Mystery of Two Curious Incidents Regarding Yesterday’s Extermination
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: March 1, 2023 at 10:14 PM

> Smoke alarms, radiators…the “inanimate” objects show that they’re anything but!!

Possible poltergeist activity dedicated to my success. Or some other paranormal phenomenon directed towards that end. Deek dropped by this evening: another favorable meetup. Will tell more tomorrow. Have an excellent night, pleasant dreams…this will send you off to Slumberland quite well:

P.S.: Radiator’s back on BTW.

Subject: I paid the poltergeist in cheese…
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: March 4, 2023 at 10:40 PM

…four slices of Swiss cheese, to be precise. According to some folklore, whenever an imp does you a favor–even when unbidden and just because it LIKES you–there’s still a price to pay, albeit small (nothing even CLOSE to selling your soul, not even a drop of your blood). In this case it appears to have been cheese, as the day after bedbug treatment I began to prepare dinner, and took from my fridge that packet of Swiss cheese. Then I reached for my whole wheat pita bread, a jar of pitted kalamata olives and another jar of roasted red bell pepper strips. Upon bringing them to my prep table, the cheese had disappeared! I looked everywhere for it, including the fridge, my work station, the spice shelves, the pantry, the sink, my cot, on the floor, and even outside my door…I couldn’t find it anywhere! Three days later, the cheese is STILL missing. Needless to say I bought another packet, glad to pay such a paltry fee for a job well done (re. the smoke alarm and the radiator). Now, onto the Deek saga:


He showed up Wednesday evening for a couple of hours, and was in the company of another vagrant, Leonard, for part of that time. Who was friendly enough and remarked how the dogs get along so well with each other, and how they appreciated my laying down cardboard and a sleeping bag, then putting on their sweaters, to keep them warm on another chilly night.

Deek made a grumpy remark under his breath about how they hate the sweaters and are always pulling them off. Which annoyed me no end, as it’s NOT true, so I retorted:

“They LOVE their sweaters, Deek, stop making shit up. The only time the sweaters slip down on them is after they’re lying around for awhile, and shifting positions. You’re just too lazy to bother adjusting them, but it’s SO important to keep them from being exposed to so much cold weather, they’re your best friends, they love you, so you should be kinder to them in return.”

That was the only rude remark he made to me that night; the rest of his visit went very well. I later reminded him to bring back all the sweaters I had given him the last two weeks, which I hoped he had stashed in his tiny cabin. Three pairs in all.

“It will save me from buying more sweaters every time I turn around, and I’ll wash them and hold onto them for you,” I concluded.

When the time came for him to leave and I helped him clean up, he remarked: “It’s always neat when two players meet.”

That was a nice thing to say, I thought, though tempted to point out I’d be much happier if he took better care of the pups instead of opposing me so often. But I bit my tongue on that.

Then, when I picked up the sleeping bag to take back upstairs, he said “Here, I’ll need the blanket tonight,” and lifted it from my arms.

I assumed that meant he’s not returning to his shelter till tomorrow morning…I didn’t object, though was a bit annoyed. I knew I’d never see that sleeping bag again, either, but that was less grating to me than the poochies staying out all night in this chill weather.

When doggies and master finally departed I called to him, as a reminder: “Don’t forget to bring me those sweaters!”

I didn’t expect Deek to show up the next day, but he did and, to my surprise, WITH A BAG OF SIX DOGGY SWEATERS AND A JACKET! (I forgot about the jacket.) And here I expected to be disappointed by him only returning one or two sweaters, or none at all. So I gave him a hearty thanks for doing so, then pulled two sweaters outta the bag and slipped them onto the mutts ’cause it was twilight and getting cold once more.

I then took the remaining canine apparel upstairs and brought down cardboard and a sleeping bag. Though Deek said I shouldn’t bother, he’s only stopping by for a few minutes, I knew better. Sure enough, he hanged out front for almost two hours…fine with me so long as the pups were comfy and warm. He knew his next payment was soon due, so chirped up:

“You’re gonna gimme a hunner dollah tomorrow? I could use the full amount.”

“No, Deek, eighty,” I replied. “I miscalculated how much you overran your allowance when I gave you $200 last month for that speaker…it’s not fifty, it’s just twenty. So it’s eighty and not a penny more. Remember, I was planning to give you just FIFTY until I realized my error.”

To my astonishment, he didn’t object. Then I told him I have to lower his weekly allowance from a hundred to eighty, starting in April, because my pandemic food stamp boost of $200 is coming to an end. Again, he didn’t put up a fuss, just said okay. This is impressive, Wattson!

Oh, I almost forgot: he also requested another supply of doggy vittles. “But I gave you eight cans and two bags of kibble just two days ago!” I exclaimed.

He apologized, claiming he didn’t check how much he had left before he departed from home base that morning. So, as a compromise, I brought him THREE cans of doggy stew and ONE bag of kibble. Which he accepted without so much as a whimper.

So yesterday when he arrived to pick up his stipend he asked me to watch the pups for a half hour or so: “Feed ’em, take ’em for a walk, have fun! I need to look someone up.”

Though he had a small cart with him he didn’t burden me with it (of course not, it contained his monster speaker), so I was free to focus all my attention on the hounds. And so I did…we had a lovely time together, as usual, and of course I fed them some jerky treats when we stopped to rest by Morey’s corner shop. It was a warm day, and the brindlekin enjoyed lolling in the sunlight in front of my building for the last ten minutes of our visit, before their master returned in just under an hour.

Deek was in a cheerful mood upon his return, thanked me and wished me a nice rest of the day, as I did him. This is good…I was MOST pleased overall, with our recent meetups three days in a row. And one more thing (it’s about the sweaters):

I noticed that the sweaters DID slip down, twice, after the dogs had been resting during their visit. And realized what the problem was:

He wasn’t connecting their collars to the leashes THROUGH the tiny neck-slit in the sweaters! Some months back Deek stopped doing that, and I didn’t think about it, so whenever I put their sweaters on neglected to do so myself. IOW his habit became mine, unconsciously. So I corrected that and pointed it out to him: that the metal ring on their collars needs to first be pulled through the slit before reattaching the leashes. No wonder they kept slipping! He just gave me an unappreciative grunt in return, and that was that.


– Zeke K-Holmes

P.S.: Marshall’s narration of my latest tale was disturbingly rude. I’ll get to that in my next missive.


Two quick observations:


On Thursday night when I was sitting by the pups with their master on the opposite side of the comforter, he suddenly warned: “Skateboard coming!” and grabbed onto Lucky’s collar. His sister, however, was a sleeping lump beneath the blanket and, just as I reached inside for her leash, she slipped out and chased the skateboarder down the block, barking up a tempest. The skateboarder stopped, so she did too, and looked up at him while he looked down at her, smiling.

“Flaco, get back here!” hollered Deek.

She didn’t move until I stood up to call her over, and she immediately complied.

The skateboarder responded to Deek’s excoriation: “Nah, it’s okay, dude. Cute doggies ya got there!” Then scooted off towards Castro Street.

Deek then turned to me: “WHAT THE FUCK’S WRONG WITH YOU?” he screeched. “I TOLD YOU A SKATEBOARD WAS COMING!”

“Well I tried to grab her leash but she was too fast,” I replied with Flaco now happily curled in my lap, eyes closed.

Instead of yelling at me further he quickly calmed down, changed the conversation and thanked me for being so good to the dogs. IOW: he appears to be getting a handle on his short temper and angry outbursts…I am both impressed and elated.


And yesterday, just before My Vagabond Trio took off, I told Deek to wait a minute and stuck a hand deep inside my backpack to withdraw two new collars I had purchased a few months back. They’re a lovely, burnished shade of brown, and made of thick, durable leather. I had already offered these collars to him weeks ago, but he turned them down without even asking to see them first. As if he resented the very idea in spite of the filthy condition of the dogs’ present collars worn for almost a year now, ready to fall apart.

But this time around (and much to my gratification) he took one look at them and said “Wow, they’re really nice, give ’em here!”

So I handed them off to him, pet the quadrupeds goodbye-for-now and returned hovel, leaving their master to fuss with the collars before they took off for parts unknown. I like to think he still has that new sleeping bag I gave him two weeks ago for the brindlekin’s comfort back at home base. Odds are he does, going by his newfound good manners.

Subject: Strange narration this time around…
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: March 5, 2023 at 2:41 PM

…albeit excellent nonetheless. But I AM concerned he might decide to no longer read my tales. The following three audio clips from last Friday’s show explain my concern. If you haven’t the time today to go through this missive, no problem, I understand how busy you are with your own obligations.

After reading the first several sentences of my tale he stopped abruptly to say the following (24 seconds).

But once he resumed the narration he preceded with THIS kinda-rude comment (30 seconds).

Finally, after finishing the narration he added this closing comment (27 seconds).

I am neither angry nor upset…just concerned about him possibly ending my tales over the airwaves. Though he DID say, in that last audio clip, that “it must be me,” so there ya go: an admission he might be in the wrong about the repetitiveness of my recent tales.

In fact, I’ve decided to keep all his side comments in my upload, along with his mother’s call-in that split my story in two (see below). Because it adds new CHARACTER to my story that is unique to local radio…and Marshall is only human. He seemed to be in a testy mood early on, as he griped about someone who interrupted his reading of a different author. Though it turned out to be a woman he invited to call in around a certain time, but she did so a bit later. Here’s the clip (1 minute).

So, what think you, Wattson…should I write it off to a moody session, or shake things up a bit, such as sending him earlier pieces, say, from Book 1, such as “Julia Vinograd in a Dream,” “Reflections on a Black Puddle” and my letters to the landlord (parts 1, 2 and 3)?

Though this would thwart my tales of recent progress with Deek, leading up to the miracle of his acquiring a tiny cabin. Which breakthrough I am SO eager to convey, but at this pace Marshall won’t arrive at those passages for two or three months from now. Not to mention my working up to the biblical rains which occur before that “miracle,” or the Exmass visit outside my window by a colorful, elegant shaman seated upon a shimmering carpet.

MY take on the matter of Marshall finding my latest tales to be “the same story over and over” is this:

My progress with Deek is a dragged out, painful one and I’m trying to convey the same angst to my readers. Though in such a way as to record my ongoing rapport with the pups in every latest chapter–along with Deek’s frequent nastiness–in a well-writ fashion, threaded with other events, introspections, flights of fancy and, of course, our email exchanges.

Marshall has hinted previously to his growing tired of my long-term focus on my struggles to salvage Deek and the hounds, as in THIS statement in my piece “Where Have All the Vagrants Gone” dated January 20th (13 seconds).

And in “Deek’s Return” dated February 10th (15 seconds).

(FYI he was wrong when he presumed that tale was NOT about the dogs ’cause he soon found out it was!)

He has also expressed confusion at least TWICE in my narrated tales, over why I even bother with Deek’s temper tantrums and meth addiction in the first place. Such as when introducing my latest piece, “The Eye of Athena” (24 seconds).

And from this one entitled “Just Work With Me Here,” dated November 11th (30 seconds).

Yet it seems to me very CLEAR why I bother with Deek over the long haul, as I’ve shown in so many of the tales he’s already narrated: that I’m doing it solely for the DOGS. And the only way to accomplish that is through HIM…and real progress IS being made! It’s just an agonizingly slow and heartbreaking grind. But that very ENDURANCE OF SPIRIT is what helps make My Brindlekin Tales so SPLENDIFEROUS. Are not these parables part of a great literary tradition of heroic sagas where long-suffering is key to victory?

Regarding his 93-year-old mother’s delightful phone call:

Around four minutes into the tale it was interrupted by her surprise call, which I thought was quite sweet, so decided NOT to splice it out. Only 83 seconds anyway, thought you might enjoy.

So I’m in a quandary how to meet this challenge Marshall has just tossed at my feet. Perhaps I should skip bigger chunks of time, speed things up and get to the torrential holiday season and Deek’s tiny-cabin miracle much sooner. And maybe even intersperse them with earlier tales. It would certainly make for a fascinating weave if I play my “cards” right, as in:

In sum: the Three Fates look upon me kindly in their spinning my life’s journey, and love to include some startling twists in the weft.

– Zeke K-Holmes

Subject: 6 doggy sweaters instead of 4! (part 1 of 2)
From: Ezekiel Krahlin
To: My Dear Wattson
Date: March 9, 2023 at 11:02 PM

Amazon accidentally sent me TWO extra sweaters, when I ordered only four…nice! But it’s actually five because one of the sweaters is too large, so I placed it on the back porch shelf for someone else’s pup. I’m also pondering the purchase of a cushioned swivel chair, as long as it’s under a hundred dollars with free shipping, and easy to assemble. Meanwhile, I cushion my metal chair with a kid’s sleeping bag and secure it with a bungee cord so it won’t slip off. Comfy enough, see pic. Besides which, I’d hate to NOT have a cushy chair for the pups to enjoy once they’re allowed to return. Now, for my latest Deek update:

SUPERB! He dropped by Tuesday morning just after 8 AM, about ten minutes after THIS dreary old pilgrim arose from the dead to start a new day. At least I had a chance to clear my bladder and bowels before he called up to my window, oh merciful fate. Gave him $100 two days early…as it’s gonna rain heavy starting Thursday, and I don’t want him to drop by and get the pups soaking wet just to pick up his allowance.

Scampy was also present, and she looks pretty good these days, dressed neatly (and warm). She watched over the pups while he skipped off to Chevron for snacks. Normally Deek asks ME to guard the mutts, but since Scampy was around and he wanted me to replace the songs on his chip with a different selection while he was gone, he decided to kill two birds with one stone. While I was back upstairs I checked on her dog-sitting twice and saw her patiently crouched down beside the angels who (I should note) sat facing the front gate, apparently hoping I’d step back out shortly.

I would’ve preferred to watch over them myself (and THEN deal with his music, which only took a few minutes anyway), but I knew this little responsibility was a good thing for Scampy, and Deek was back in less than ten minutes. I’ve noticed an improvement in her appearance and behavior since she was housed, albeit briefly (two days and nights I think). Hopefully, she’ll be less anxious next time she’s offered shelter, and will stay longer. Having her OWN space instead of sharing with another may be the winning ticket. And I’m VERY pleased to report that Deek was once more in good humor, so not even a jot of bitchiness for me to deal with. In fact:

Even through all these rainy, cold days not ONCE has he ever shown dismay or frustration because of the inclement weather. Not even during those horrific deluges back in December and January!

Shorty after his return they departed, and I went to Rosenberg’s for my morning java, then sat on the steps of a corner store facing Market Street. Called “Max Muscle” of all things, a sports nutrition outlet; couldn’t be more irrelevant in my worldview. My usual habit these days: to stop there for a few minutes while sipping on the steamy brew before returning hovel. Not the best ambiance for MY taste, traffic zipping by in an urban jungle, no lush greenery to soothe my nerves…but that’s all I have. Though something NICE happened, just the same:

A black fellow in a yellow nylon jacket walked by, then paused to address me with a broad smile and a hearty “Good morning!” I grinned back and replied, “And a good morning to you, too…I’m just starting my day.”

“Oh, well, you have a nice one then!” he called back, then proceeded to cross Noe Street.

Well THAT lifted my spirit, Wattson, as it’s SO rare anymore for someone passing by to take the time to spread a bit of good cheer.

Deek dropped by again later that day, around 4:30 PM, asked me to watch the pups, maybe feed ’em first. I didn’t bother to ask how long he’ll be gone (a half hour? an hour? two?), nor did he volunteer to tell me.

“So I’ll take them for a walk, too, okay?” I queried.

He dismissively shrugged his shoulders and walked off wheeling a bike on one side and his granny cart containing that 40-pound speaker on the other. I crouched down to pet the hounds while they faithfully watched him fade away into the distance. They knew the routine by now, so calmly waited tethered to a sign post for me to return with their meal and a fresh bowl of water. I stood there while they ate, my feet pressed against their bowls so they wouldn’t wind up pushing them beyond reach. Though Lucky would just clamp down on the edge of his bowl with his teeth, lift it and set it down closer, I’m not so sure his sister would do the same.

I spent around forty minutes strolling them about, feeding them treats and encouraging them to run up and down the sidewalk of a hilly side street. I say “encourage” because they weren’t much into sport that day, and were satisfied just to be in my company, sniffing here and there and sitting down with me on someone’s wooden doorsteps.

Funny how Lucky loves to play rough and tumble with me–tugging on my pants cuff as I try to walk, and standing up with his paws on my legs to grip my jacket with fierce little growls–while his sister isn’t the least bit interested, as if to say “You guys are too silly for me.” She’s just that much of a lady! Instead, she prefers to look straight ahead, ears pinned back in serious intent to watch for whatever comes down the pike as she plods forward…sometimes pausing to look back at us with studied resolve. Sincerest little doggy in the multiverse!

Figuring their master could return at any moment at this 40-minute point (or was already waiting out front) me and the brindlekin returned to our spot by the parking meter across from the old ATM depot. He was NOT there, so I tied them to the pole and ran upstairs to bring down (in two trips) a sheet of cardboard, a large box that I found on the back porch a few days ago just for this purpose, and a sleeping bag.

As expected, they eagerly dove into the box the moment I set it down…scratching up the bottom and sides in delighted fury, but finally settled down several minutes later. After all the air had grown chillier by then, so Lucky chose the box to curl up in, and Flaco the comforter right beside me, where she laid her dainty noggin on my thigh. Almost an hour had passed before the sky grew dark and I, restless…and thought: “Where the fuck is Deek, did he fall asleep somewhere?” Honestly, good physician, his demeanor before taking off was such as to suggest he’ll be back within the hour, even though he didn’t put it into words; so I WAS concerned.

I managed to distract myself with my spare smartphone and Bluetooth earbuds by listening to some of Hellfreezer’s true workplace tales I snatched from Youtube some days back. He’s a treat and a half! Of course I took frequent breaks to shower the pooches with affectionate pats and scritches. Another hour had passed by which time my stomach began to growl and I felt too chill, though promptly resolved that by rushing hovel to procure a thicker jacket. While back upstairs I also grabbed another handful of doggy morsels, and of course they loved the tasty surprise upon my return. Then it occurred to me as the pups settled back down once they realized snack time was over:

“Now that no more indigents crash out on the sidewalks of the Castro anymore (for the most part), I must stick out like a sore thumb these days, more than ever! So I’m that crazy old geezer who sits out front of my building with two little dogs now and then, who OBVIOUSLY isn’t homeless, so people may wonder: what’s up with that? At least the cops don’t bother me (knock on concrete).”

I thought about whipping up a quick dinner for myself, but decided against it as I’d be in my room for at least fifteen minutes, and that wouldn’t be fair to the hounds. Though they’d probably sleep right through it, ya never know when a sudden disturbance might occur to disrupt their peace, and I may not be able to rush back out fast enough to protect them from any possible harm. So I reminded myself this is a small price to pay for their well-being, I love their company, and Deek is doing great these days by keeping his tiny cabin.

He FINALLY returned shortly before 9 PM. Told me he fell asleep and just woke up a few moments ago and rushed right back. Rather than show any anger I played it cool:

“That’s okay, we’re fine,” I told him. “I’m just a little hungry but I can take care of that right now.”

He grinned in response and queried: “Well, did some nice lady stop by and give you ten or twenny dollah for the dogs?”

“Nope,” I retorted. “Wish they did!”

“Oh, I see,” he replied. “Well then, did some friendly street bum keep you company for awhile?”

“Nope, not that either,” I replied. “Just me and the dogs the whole time.”

“So you had a nice time anyway ’cause you love them with all your heart, right?”

I had just stood up and brushed some debris from my pants when he said that. “You got it, Deek…I ALWAYS enjoy their company no matter what!”

“No matter what your HIGHNESS, you mean!” he quipped. Telling me to call him “boss” or “your highness” is a new game he plays with me; it started just a few days ago.

“Right, your highness I mean,” I joked back, then offered to feed the mutts another meal before he departs.

“Sure, why not,” he agreed, and off I scooted back hovel, relieved he had finally shown up, and proud to have fulfilled my dog-sitting responsibility so well, especially for not giving him grief for returning much later than expected.

The quadrupeds were not that hungry, only ate half their servings before returning to their nests while Deek was in the Hohokum smoke shop to purchase whatever. Once he stepped back out I untethered their leashes and proceeded to gingerly remove the sleeping bag from beneath Flaco, and tilt the box so her brother would step out. Of course they weren’t too pleased, but were compliant just the same, being the good little canines they are.

Though apparently I didn’t place the box far enough away since, the moment I dropped the blanket into it, Flaco ran up to it and leapt right in!

“Aw, look at that, Deek,” I gushed. “She’s back in the sleeping bag!”

“Stop that, Flaco,” Deek hollered, “Come here!” And with that he picked up her leash and yanked on it.

“No, YOU stop it, Deek,” I snapped, “Just pick her up!” And so I did, scooped her up in my arms, said I’m sorry but it’s time to go now, and placed her gently down upon the sidewalk.

There wasn’t anything to clean up after their departure, just the sheet of cardboard and a bowl of water I had laid down earlier. However, some other vagrant had dropped a couple of notebooks, a few empty cans, two pens and about twenty cigarette butts close by, so I decided to grab a broom and dust pan from upstairs and sweep THAT up, too. After all, the Hohokum workers step outside a lot (to chew the camel fat and smoke), and they see everything I do…so I figured this would be a gesture of good will on my part.

But no sooner had I taken broom to concrete than Scooter showed up outta the blue, accompanied by another fellow who was quite handsome in a haggardly sorta way: 5-foot-11 with straight, dirty blond hair down to his shoulders and a well-built, strong body. And addressed me:

“Can we talk?”

“Sure,” I said while picking up the notebooks and pens.

He then apologized profusely for his behavior in the past and hoped I can forgive him for that. “I’m not really like that, I just have my moments and I promise it will never happen again!”

“Well,” I stood up and replied, with a wry grin: “You certainly gave the WORST first impression anyone’s EVER given me in my entire life…but, yeah, I forgive you.”

He then went on to further apologize for his stupid behavior while his companion stood nearby with a friendly demeanor. But I cut him off, reassured him it’s okay, no need to keep apologizing:

“We’re good. I’m a smart fellow and saw this, uh, reconciliation, weeks ahead. I just didn’t want to be premature about it, seeing as I’m focused on protecting Deek’s dogs, and this building. So now you understand MY behavior towards you in the past, okay?”

Scooter said yes he does, then asked me about his Bohemian sugar daddy, as he hasn’t seen him in days and is very worried about him. Explained how he loves the dude with all his heart, and how they’ve been “together” for eleven months now.

Right, Wattson, that’s when I first saw them together, eleven months ago…but I question their relationship as he could be making this all up for his own, meth induced motives. As far as I know, Kelsen could be friggin’ too SCARED of the fellow to chase him away for good, which may be further damaging his already frail health. Of course I kept this dark conjecture all to myself and suggested I step inside and knock on his door, see if he’s home. Though I already knew Scooter can do that himself, but chose to feign otherwise.

“Oh, no, you don’t need to do that,” he replied. “I have the key to his place. I’m just wondering if you know what’s going on with him, if he’s alright.”

“I guess you guys don’t have cell phones to keep in touch, eh?” I queried.

“No we don’t,” he answered. Which I already knew, but thought it wise to not lay all my cards on the table, including THAT one.

“Well, I’m guessing he’s been rushed off to E.R. again,” I surmised aloud, “as that seems to happen quite often with him.”

“Really, you think that’s it?” he asked with some frustration.

“Well, it’s been that way ever since he moved in almost three years ago,” I replied with a shrug. He then declared:

“I was thinkin’ maybe he’s made friends with someone else in the building and may be hangin’ out there sometimes.”

“Um, that’s probably not the case,” I said with an index finger pressed upon my chin in contemplation. “Though I COULD be wrong, but my impression is he hasn’t made ANY friends in this building. No one’s fault though, people tend to keep to themselves these days.” Then added, just for flair:

“‘Rona virus and other bad news, you know.”

So I assured him I’ll keep an eye out for Karlsen and let him know if I see him…but since he has access to his apartment, I’m sure that won’t really be necessary. Though I DO suspect he’s back in the hospital, and he must’ve been escorted away in an ambulance late at night while I was sleeping, or when I was away from the building to shop for groceries, run some errand, show up at an appointment or:

“visit my attorney, stuff like that.”

“You have an attorney? For what?” he queried with more than a passing curiosity.

So I then gave him a brief outline of my lawsuit with Ablahblah Realty, how the building manager’s growing senility created this debacle in the first place and now he’s on his death bed, how a neighbor down the hallway who gossiped against me (and was good friends with the manager) kicked the bucket several months ago, etc. I also told him my situation with Deek and his pups, how he now has a tiny cabin as of a month ago, and that I’ve been:

“an advocate, an activist for the LGBT homeless for decades, and this is just my latest calling.”

Scooter’s mind was blown (or at least, that’s how he played his next card): “I had no idea! That’s impressive, to say the least.”

He then looked at his “associate” and said they need to go now, and thanked me again for accepting his apology with such good grace. I said no problem, and off they went somewhere up Market Street, away from the Castro. Now get this, good doctor:

I STILL hadn’t had dinner and was STARVING at this point, so I quickly swept up the remaining debris, deposited it in the trash bin and rushed upstairs to finally get down to preparing my humble feast of pita bread stuffed with Swiss cheese, roasted pepper strips and sliced kalamata olives…topped with a few splashes of Crystal hot sauce. Add to that a small, shallow bowl of frozen peas heated to perfection in a microwave oven and a mug of diet ginger ale, and you have a feast fit for a pauper!

After chopping up the olives and pepper strips and slicing the pita bread into two even halves I suddenly heard someone boom up to my window, “ZEKE!” It was definitely NOT Deek’s voice, and I thought “Now what? Better not be Scooter.” Upon peering out my window, to my disgust I laid eyes upon pesky Vince. Who I always hope never to see again, but keeps popping up like a jumping spider from your shoe when you least expect it.

“Are you busy?” he said.

[Part 2, coming up tomorrow…if I’m still alive for the telling!]

– Zeke K-Holmes

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