The Kool Kats Lemon Twist

Avery found himself looking toward the garage standing just outside the back door of his home. He wanted to look at his brother Rick’s new birthday bike again – an Airwings Kool Kats Lemon Twist. He liked saying that, “Kool Kats Lemon Twist!” That’s what it said on the chain guard – and it looked every bit its name.

Avery couldn’t seem to admire it enough. Even sitting still it seemed to be moving. Tall ‘ape bar’ handle bars with green grips and streamers flowing out of them; front and rear hand-brakes and a three-speed shifter on the lime yellow-colored frame; a thick drag tire in back, a smaller diameter tire in front – just like a dragster; a lime green glittered banana seat; a tall sissy bar with a large red reflector at its apex. Rick always had the cooler bikes, Avery thought.

“Don’t get on it” Rick would tell him, “You’re too small.”

“He’s almost fourteen, too old for bikes” Avery mused as he felt himself covet the new obsession. He never liked his own bikes; they were too kid-like, not cool like this one, the “K2LT”, Avery began calling it, a pet name for this attractive distraction that he could not have. Not yet. But he could not wait.

It nearly fell away from his timid grip when he raised the kick stand. ‘You’re too small!’ he admonished himself, but proceeded with this forbidden endeavor anyway. As he moved it out of the garage the clicking of the pawls served as more of a reminder that this was a bigger boy’s bike, but he loved that sound too, not willing to wait until Kay two El Tee could really be his.

Avery gave a running mount and almost immediately regretted it, but found he was rolling too fast to dismount. Not accustomed to hand-brakes Avery back peddled only to discover to his horror the K2LT had no foot brake. Fear gripped him as the rush of wind in his ears grew louder as his speed increased. His fear grew to wide-eyed, jaw-clenching terror as he tried desperately to control this beautiful machine with his little arms fully extended. Each little bump and ripple in the asphalt road sent waves of panic through his mind as he recalled Evil Knievel’s failed jump as Caesar’s Palace just two years before. His thin arms are now excruciating at the strain of keeping this rolling sculpture under control. He was determined to protect his potential heirloom and keep himself intact as well.

Avery saw the road level out at the bottom of the hill another 40 yards ahead. But he denied himself any feelings of relief. Avery was a realist. He waited for it instead to come to him organically.

“Don’t get on it, you’re too small.” Avery replayed his brother’s warning in his mind over and over.

Finally he glided into the level base of the hill and tauntingly, the bike slowed as quickly as it sped coming down. Avery reached with his left hand to clamp down on the hand brake. He soon realized his mistake as the front wheel locked and he began to lose control. He immediately released it. The rolling green flash came to a stop more under the influence of gravity than anything else. That self-same gravity, after bringing both Avery and bike to a stand still, sent them tipping over sideways to the left. Pissed that the punishing Fates were not quite done with him – and recalling his brother’s implied threat – Avery refused to lay the bike down and maintained his and its upright position. He held this awkward and precarious posture of half-on, half-off the bike until he was sure of his footing. He then slid his right leg off the banana seat and had both feet planted on the road. He felt a warm flush wash over his face and neck. Relief came to him and presence of mind returned.

He stood there a moment to catch his breath and revel in the moment before walking the lime-green steel machine to its parking spot in the garage back home. He lowered the kickstand then backed away a few steps as the rush of the transitory event subsided. He looked over at his own burnt-orange colored, no frills, Schwinn cruiser with a new appreciation.

At least that bike had a foot brake, which was normal to him. “Why would it be any other way?” he wondered.

At least that little cruiser was way easy to manage — and didn’t have multiple gears either. “Why would a kid want to do that anyway — shift gears? And at least it’s my size. I’m not too small for it.”

An abrupt crash startled Avery out of his thoughtful meanderings. The Airwings Kool Kats Lemon Twist had fallen over onto the lawn mower.

“Oh, shit!” Avery whispered to himself involuntarily. He rushed to prop it back up onto its kickstand, rolling it to a more surer angle of ground. He tested its stability rocking it back and forth and it seemed solidly resting now.

Avery hopped on his own Schwinn cruiser and peddled down the driveway and on down the road following the same path as he did on his brother’s bike. He had not noticed that the large red reflector at the apex of the tall sissy bar of the Kool Kats had cracked.

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Ode to Coffee and Zombies

I pulled a late-nighter last evening. The repose of slumber did not offer its mercy until after 1:00 AM. It’s now 8:05 AM.

I have ‘things’ to do.

Unmeasured, unaccountable moments later–I do not recall–the coffee begins brewing and I anticipate that first hot mouthful of stimulation with serenity.

The percolator is gurgling now as the reservoir empties into the decanter and mingled with that–the sizzle of steam that has condensed onto the hot plate. The silence crescendos.

Lifting the cup the first few desperate slurps are taken neat.

I notice the smell from my hands–I don’t mind it anymore. My morning face has aged–considerably–looks how my hands smell.

Only after the refreshing pleasantness of the brew fills my sinuses and I feel the fog rush out of my ravaged brain do I accessorize the refilled cup with a small measure of cane sugar and a quarter teaspoon of full-on whipping cream.

Well, that was then.

That was what I used to do anyway–to snuff out the zombie–before I developed a craving for Cerveaux Tartare.

Richard’s Box

“Dear Diary,

“Excuse my brief pause, I had to get another pen. I hate those tiny crumbles of dried ink that smudge the page – pisses me off. Why do pens have to do that when they’re nearly run dry? I’d use a pencil but it’s such a bother to sharpen it every few sentences. Anyway…

“I’m outside on the porch now with the rising sun to my back – it’s cold – 40 degrees. That’s cold to me, especially today. There’s a certain ‘boniness’ to the chill.

“I walked the dog – briefly – just long enough for him to drop a load and then I just stared at it. I can’t explain the deliberate belligerence that came over me when I lit a cigarette for the sole purpose of dousing it in the steamy pile. And then I stared at that.

“After we got home, I showered and shaved.

“Today we bury my brother, Richard.

“Thing is, Diary, I woke up placid and calm – then once the hot shower water pounded my back a minute or two – I started feeling the anger again. Welling up to the point where I had to vent – standing there naked, wet, seething with paranoia – hatred, overwhelming grief.

“I conjure these vain, imagined scenarios and beat the air with my fists bloody, talking shit to my imaginary oppressor. This can go on for 15 minutes or so until I become self-consciously aware of what I’m doing.

Kenny took out another cigarette remembering with a wry yet slightly embarrassed smirk the last one he extinguished. His shrink recommended he keep a diary meant to help him cope with ‘life’ events he deals with not so well. And now, a death in the family. The phone rang.

Kenny’s cheap apartment still had a wall-hanger phone with a rotary dial and twisted, mangled cord stretched out of reasonable proportion. It didn’t hang straight either – been yanked off the wall before and time again. It rang with that electromagnet clapper bell, reminiscent of school days signaling the end of one class and the beginning of another. Kenny noticed the black Bakelite material stank too – years and years of smoke and liquored breath had pummeled the receiver, grunge encrusted the earpiece, grabbed and abused by grimy, filthy hands – used as a club by beleaguered housewives to discipline an errant son or no-good husband. It was a vile thing with a history. But like most old things, it was built to last and still worked pretty good.

Kenny lifted the receiver handling it as if it were someone else’s snotty tissue tentatively placing it near his ear without touching himself with it. He paused before answering, “Yeah, this is Kenny.”

“Mr. Baker? Kenneth Baker?” The delicately feminine voice asked with an uncertain tone.

“He goes by Kenny. Yeah, I’m him.” Kenny hated being called Kenneth. The name sounded stiffly dignified, almost effeminate to him.

“Oh, okay, Kenny. Uh, Mr. Baker, you don’t know me, my name is Stephanie, Stephanie Hilt. I’m the executor of Richard’s estate. I, uh… have something you should see.”

Kenny jerked upright and peered out the window wild-eyed upon hearing, “…something you should see.” He immediately recalled a dubious, fractured time he and Richard were at church during that portion of the service when the choir lifted their voices in song and praise.

“… And Crown Him Lord Of All…”

“Hey, skinny Kenny” Richard hissed in his ear, deliberately waiting on the distraction of the choir to humor himself at Kenny’s expense. “I have something you should see! Look!”

“…Sinn–ers, whose love can ne’er forget

the wormwood and the gall,

go spread your trophies at His feet…”

Skinny Kenny resisted Richard. In church one’s behavior should be solemn, dignified, respectful. Snickering, Richard cajoled skinny Kenny with a sharp left elbow to his ribs while thrusting a soiled page — Ms. Centerfold 1974 — in his face.

“… Bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown Him Lord of all.”

“Oh, really? Something I should see?” Kenny indignantly blurted into the phone. “I knew my brother, Ms. Hilt. Fortunately, you have not had the displeasure. He was a drunk porn-addict and a curmudgeon that talked openly about his own masturbation. He smelt of old cheese and cut his own hair – and it looked it. There’s not a damn thing of his I’d ever want to see or even know about. And I hope you’re wearing latex gloves if you’re actually handling any of his wares, lady.” Kenny felt his anger rising from his chest and it made his face burn.

“Mr. Baker, please, you don’t understand. Richard left something for you, while it’s nothing untoward necessarily, it’s quite personal and I’d rather not talk about it over the phone.”

Kenny remembered his shrink advising him not to judge or decide a thing based on emotion, to take a moment to consider what he says before he says it, or to consider a decision before he decides it. He was impetuous in thought and deed and he knew it but he was getting better at controlling his outbursts, and considered this Ms. Hilt’s offer.

“So personal you can’t mention it over the phone and allow me to decide for myself what, if anything, I want to do with it?”

“Please, Kenny, please indulge me.” Ms. Hilt responded somewhat anxiously.

Kenny drew in a long breath then began patting is pockets in search of his smokes. “Okay, listen, I intend to arrive late and leave early, so be at Patterson’s Funeral Home by 1:45 or so, out back, behind the morgue.”

Ms. Hilt hung up abruptly not before getting her instructions. This sudden request, untimely as it was, confused Kenny. He slowly hung up the phone, resigned to the fact that his brother, Richard, even dead and about to be buried, still controlled him from the grave.

“I want to be done with you, you bastard, but no, you continue to screw with me, you just have to have the last say. What is it, Richard? huh? What strange weird thing has your sick, derelict mind conjured? What psycho, maligned gesture do you have waiting for me, you selfish, ego-centric, disgusting son-of-a-bitch?”

Kenny never attended the funeral that cold, Spring day and never returned any of Ms. Hilt’s calls. He stood her up and left her holding that strange box back in the icy shade of the morgue. A box she did not want but could not get rid of. She was the executor of the estate. The box was her responsibility. Until she could find an heir to accept and take it, she possessed it.

Richard did indeed have the last word, playing on a mania, a weakness of Kenny’s, a need to know – and yet, he dare not in the case of Richard’s box. Either way, his mind would remain tortured.

Your Damn Neuroses – An Answer

I wished and wanted that I could be so — your future
As for me, your past remains there
What if’s seldom happen

And what human doesn’t fuck up! and what human
Doesn’t become bored? Aggravated? Morose?

Love is indomitable! We’ve felt its force

If I’ve failed to sate your thirst, then
From the beginning
Never knew we one another, and
From the beginning
A dream we indulged

Love conquers all un-requirements – and what is more, my love…

You are still Every Woman to me

Us we’ll remain, have remained, we’re closer than close enough to know
Chance? Our love has mastered all probabilities

We love more than too much – Still it’s not enough
We’ve not yet arrived to feel that most longed for
Touch

But
You’ve coped, my love – – the ‘what if’ happened

Still – You are Every Woman to me

Crunker’s Tatts & Toys

I awoke this morning with a strong, compulsory urge to get a tattoo–just had to do it. The spontaneity of it all excited me. Even the subject of the tattoo and where on my body I would place it came to me in one, single, abrupt spheroid of inspiration, just as I shook off the sparkling vestiges of a powerful dream.

I had always wanted a tattoo. Well, maybe not always, but I’ve wanted one, I know, since I was old enough to vote, and drink – legally (feh!). But I was checked by my brooding over the permanence of it. It had to be a meaningful subject, reflective of my inner sanctum, my id and my odd, something that always has been and always will be–me, regardless of the subsequent and inevitable changes that will undoubtedly ebb and flow throughout my life, redefining and refining me.

So I drove to Crunker’s Tatts & Toys, on Imperial Avenue across from the Chick-Fil-A, at around 11:30 this morning and it seemed it wasn’t open. I pressed my face and palms to the glass pleadingly peering inside.

“Gaaaaahhhhhhd Damnit!” I spat through my teeth, “do they keep the same fer-riggin’ hours as hair salons? Are you kidding me? Closed on Mondays? I had a dream I’d get my tattoo!”

I was so livid, I startled myself. Had I come to be like a lot of Americans when we think we can’t have our toys when we want them? However upon observation of the peeling window schedule, I saw I actually had a 1/2 hour to wait.

“OH!”

So I sat in my car and waited. And waited, and waited, and… But the thought that I would finally be complete sated my impatience.

I thought it all through–I was going to have a tattoo placed just above the superior aspect of the gluteal cleft, i.e. the buttocks, right on the sacrum. Oh, the bad-assed-ness of it all made my eyes water.

The master tattooist, named ‘Horst’, I had heard, whom incidentally I’ve never met before, finally pulls up in his 1957 black Cadillac Hearse, scraping the undercarriage, gouging more black top. He looked every bit like Nietzsche – THE Nietzsche, and he eyed me uber menacingly. I looked at him with my eyes without moving my head. Horst just sat there for a duration of minutes, absolutely still, just fucking staring at me, and I started to freak a little, until finally, I looked at him and nodded a greeting. With that, he jumped out of his hearse like his ass suddenly caught fire and I genuinely thought he was going to role my Toyota over – just pick it up and toss it the fuck over. I grabbed the steering wheel, hunched my shoulders and gritted my teeth so hard my jaw cramped. Instead, he just dashed into his parlor. I was beginning to reconsider my venture… but, Hell Naw–the fucker–I needed my tatt.

I walked in the establishment tentatively, eyeing the place over looking for snapping pets or booby traps or  bicephalic, cycloptic offspring propped in the corners with pointed teeth and foul tempers. However, there he was, shaving his neck with a straight razor without looking at what the hell he was doing, rather, he was leering at me through the mirror.

“Vel, I am hier unt you are dere unt vat do you vant den ya?” He demanded. The nerve-shredding noise of the straight razor scraping against his stippled neck only served to add emphasis to his surly attitude. Yeah, he was getting to me, and he knew it.

After telling him what I wanted he immediately dropped his razor and spun around, grabbing hold of the edge of the counter tops with both hands. His light blue eyes darted wildly about the room, he then grabbed the frayed edges of his Grateful Dead T-shirt and with one fluid, effortless motion, peeled the shirt off and threw it across the room taking out a few key-chains and other paraphernalia scattering them onto the floor. His torso revealed his consummate craftsmanship–as well as pierced nipples.

“Dis vil take some time” he growled. Horst insisted he shave me himself. I mean–he In-Sis-ted! And THAT added another $40 to the tab!

After 45 minutes to shave what, 10 square inches, I would be justified in charging him for his opportunistic liberties as I felt it a little unnecessary to grab the cheek of my ass while he razor-assaulted my freakin’ back. But, he is the artist and knows what it takes to achieve that creative nirvana. And besides that, he was going to complete me.

After 2.5 hours and $650–in freakin’ cash for crissake, (worth every penny) I was considerably sore from the  pummeling to my whole bod and weak from not having a lunch break. Horst was in the zone and could not be bothered  with such trifling luxuries like dietary sustenance. I observed the masterpiece–genius, absolute genius. So good in fact that I overlooked Horst’s creative liberty in making the neck of the Hula Girl’s ukulele resemble a large phallus.