Thursday, November 24, 2011

Kindness Rev 2

I’d noticed his shades in the kitchen were drawn and his girlfriend’s red Prius has been here all week. That’s off, must be something wrong.  Walking the dogs tonight, the Prius was gone, and the blinds were up and he sat in his normal place at his kitchen table.  A clear view past his garage, the street and my fence to my front door.  I felt like a glass of wine and a chat and it was obvious that whatever had gone on over the last few days was over.  I poured a glass of red into a paper coffee cup and headed across the street to his front gate.  He noticed me as I approached the sliding door to his kitchen and waved me in.  Standing up awkwardly and unlatching the lock.

Are you OK? I assumed and noted that I’d seen Sarah’s car in the middle of the week but it didn’t look like they were around.  He said Oh god what a week I’ve had and launched into his organ recital. On Monday I had 3 teeth pulled and I’ll need to get 3 um “implants, I volunteered. Yes, and it’s going to cost me over $10 grand. 

Then Wednesday I woke up and my entire mid section was as hard as cement.  I couldn’t even move the flesh on my belly.  I figured something wasn’t right so I got dressed and went down to Scripps to urgent care and they took an ultrasound and gave me something to help me sleep and sent me home.  I kept waking up so I took 2 vicodin and it put me right out. 

Then Thursday morning I still had the heavy feeling so I called Sarah to drive down and go back to the hospital with me because I had a feeling I was not going to be able to come straight home and she was here within an hour. This time the ultrasound showed my gall bladder was really inflamed and ready to blow so the doctored ordered another ultrasound to make sure there were no stones.  She told me she’d do the surgery on Thursday night if possible.  She stopped in a little after 11pm to find they hadn’t done the 2nd ultrasound yet and left to go rattle some cages and I was on my way within 5 minutes.

 Her name was Dr. Valerie something and when I asked her when she was able to sleep she told me several times a day she catches an hour or two. I’m going to write a letter to the hospital. It’s not right that they run such a lean medical staff and that they have no back up.  There’s like 12 operating rooms in one room.  Everyone is rushed and tired. 

The other

I told him off this morning.  He walked up made a negative comment and I looked right at him and said “you’re always so negative” he said, no I’m just kidding, and I said You are always so negative, please let me sit here in peace.”  He walked off.

Do I feel bad?  A little.  Would I do it again. Absolutely.  One of my writer friends said so you choose discomfort over resentment, or something like that, and I said yes.  I say yes.

Right now the positive ions are rushing through the air. You know, the positives are the negatives.  One couple friend who have always fought, part of their dynamic, are growing further and further apart, and trying to drag me into the middle.  Another has experienced a dramatic health crisis that has cascaded into the rest of their life, and the home and car they bought just before the crisis.  He’s defensive, she’s falling apart, in between working and trying to keep their home afloat.  Another couple has been facing one health issue after another, and now she is worried this is serious, and he is doing something about it, hopefully not too late.

Back to kindness

 I went to visit my neighbor across the street, an older gent, whose girlfriend of 40 years is incapacitated, and in a hospital in Kansas, moved there by her family, and he is having his own issues.  You didn’t hear what happened to me, did you, he said.  No, what.  I was wearing these diabetic shoes, you know shoes designed for people with diabetes.  They are heavy, and as you can see I’m pretty frail and skinny. I tripped on the entryway, stumbled over that first cement step and went down on my ribs.  Look, I don’t think it’s bruised but boy did it hurt.  I couldn’t sleep, and I could only sit up, couldn’t get to my feet, so I scooted down the walkway to the gate, and I was afraid to use the gate to hoist myself up, afraid it would give and I’d make this worse, so I maneuvered around so I could open the gate, and moved out onto the front grass, my pants were filty by then,  I was inching along on my butt.  What time was this, I said, he said about 4 yesterday.  I figured eventually someone would drive by and I could get help.  Didn’t see any activity over at your house, I don’t think you were home.  Finally the blonde lady next door came home and helped me up.  I went straight to bed, slept for 5 hours.  I haven’t eaten anything since this morning, it hurts when I cough.

I said, you know I’ve been thinking of getting one of those things, you know, a life alert.  He dismissed my comment and said, you know I usually take my cell phone everywhere but I was just putting some newspapers in the recycle bin in the garage.  I can usually get myself back up but I just couldn’t do it yesterday.  You need to eat, I said. 

This is my niece, went to Westlake high school.  She is so pretty and so smart.  She wanted to go to some art school that costs a fortune and is 4 years full time year round.  She’d be a great nurse or teacher, her mom talked her into going to a community college up there, near thousand oaks.  This is her graduation picture.  Did I tell you about the other one, the one who went to Culinary School in NY and then UNLV for hospitality management.  She’s a pastry chef, worked at a hotel in the Gaslamp, but has had a hard time finding a job in Vegas.  Her husband works for the Bellagio, he’s a chef also.  She just got an interview in Arizona , a Starwood group hotel, like the W.  They flew her out there, have her stay a couple days, gave her a beautiful room, and she just got a job offer.  It’s such a good one her husband is leaving his job, and will have to find a new one in Arizona.  I have to go, you need to eat, I said, standing up and sliding open the screen on the door.  I look back and wave as I close his front gate. 

To be continued

©2011 sharon j corrigan

JJ's Silverlake

Gimme another beer he shouted down the bar. It was mid afternoon at JJ's a local bar in the Silverlake district of LA. The damp grey air seeped in through the velvet curtain shroud surrounding the open door.  The floor had a layer of grease and dirt that no amount of borax could cut through.  Ashtrays on every table, and about 1 every foot along the L shaped bar that took up most of the space.  Jerry, a regular, sat at the far end of the room, in darkness. He was always there when the doors opened an didn’t leave until his kid showed up to fetch him home around dinnertime. Hold your horses said John Jr. the proprietor. JJ was a resourceful man and the bar venture was simply the latest in a string of businesses in a string of cities across the country.  There was the candy company and the sweet oil factory, there was the coffee grinding service and that farm they’d lived on for a time.

Elizabeth, his wife of 30 years and the mother of his 9 children had slowly sagged into her apron, her spectacles sliding down her nose, eyes defeated and lips downturned.  She never laughed at his jokes anymore, or his stories from behind the bar.  Of he tried to tell her, she would cut him off with a glance or a short comment.  Oh year funny guy you are JJ.  Remember the night that Rose was to graduate and you got hauled off to jail.  I know it wasn’t you running numbers behind the juice box, but you knew what was going on.  You and all your fancy radio friends going on until all hours.  Me at home with dinner on the stove and mouths to feed while you tell jokes to strangers and posers.

Oh Elizabeth, give me a break darling.  You know the kiddies love me and I always close early on Christmas, and wait till after the mid day mass to open up on Sundays. I never let those hucksters swindle my regulars, but don’t get in the way of a friendly poker game or a wager.

John, she frowned and wrung her hands.  John I need more grocery money. You need to get a real job. Not just play act like you have any sense of business. You are charming but hopeless as a provider.  The boys, our boys hanging by the door, picking up the cigar butts and lighting them out back, stinking up their clean clothes.  They should be doing schoolwork, or selling magazines, helping around the house.  You are not setting a good example for those boys, what’s to become of them

John looked up at her and smiled shaking his head, not a sound,

To be continued

©2011 sharonjcorrigan

Killing Time

God am I glad I just went to the liquor store, Stuart thought as the old lady put the stalled elevator emergency phone back in its cradle.  The three of them sized each other up.  Anyone got anything sweet?  The pretty teen with the Juicy sweats, directed her question to the old lady, but her eyes were on Stuart.  She was obviously only 14 or 15, but well developed for her age.  Stuart smiled.  I’ve got some beer and a bag of Cheetos.  The old lady had been observing them quietly, and was now sliding down to the floor using her back to maintain her balance.  She was too old for this shit, she thought, but didn’t say it out loud.

 The young girl, Amy, was silently trying to (a) figure out how old Stuart was and (b) if she would be able to talk him out of a beer, even with the old lady and her disapproving expression. Edith hit the floor hard, on her bad hip, and let out an involuntary yelp.  As they glanced down at her sprawled out on the floor of the elevator, she said loudly are they twist tops?  As she finished the sentence and paused for dramatic effect, they all burst into laughter.

 Geesh, young lady, you smell like a bloody orange soda, is that body lotion or your shampoo?  Amy glanced down nervously at the very personal question, and suddenly realized she was trapped in here with these two strangers who were, it now seemed, as old as, or older than her parents.    Maybe they know each other and are just here to rob someone?  Maybe they will hurt her, or kill her, because there is no doubt at all that she would be able to ID them in a police lineup, or from mug shots.  She could feel and smell the perspiration run down her back and her cheeks.  She tried hard not to touch her face. I don’t want to mess up my makeup so when the news guys take my picture, I will look beautiful, dead or alive.

Stuart began to fidget noticeably, and shifted his weight from side to side.  His legs were going to sleep, and he realized he hadn’t showered all day.  After working the late shift in the kitchen of Old Bombay, he knew he probably reeked of curry and exotic spices from every pore, and in this closed stuffy space with no air conditioning, even he was beginning to feel a little sick.

 Boy do I want a beer, he said aloud without thinking.  Edith looked up at him and said, Son, you don’t need our damned permission, but it would be a nice gesture to at least share a second one with the two of us.  Amy looked surprised but quickly recovered.  She smiled and looked at him solemnly.  Yes, that would be very kind.   She stumbled over the phrase that much too formal for the situation they found themselves in.

 Anyone got a watch he asked? 

To be continued