So we were walking around the lake, well…pond actually, we were walking on the path around it, the lake or pond. It was a first date of sorts, we had just had Thai chicken soup. If you stood on your tip-toes at the highest point on the path, you could see, over the tops of trees, Mount Rainier. Just the tip, from your tip-toes.
“Like this,” I said
“Like this?” she said.
“Like that,” I said.
“Oh!, I see it.” she said.
I was telling her about the time I’d met Jesus…as we strolled. I was telling her how last summer I’d hitched down the coast. From Seattle. And as I was speaking strolling, attempting to verbalize the account…how I had met Jesus and all, she starts fussing with her shirt and pulls both arms in, like she was cold or something.
It was mid-July I believe.
Well so we had meandered right out to the end of this pier, or dock, out over the lake pond and she is still waggling around with her arms inside her shirt, a tie-dyed affair, the shirt was.
Anyhow we are at the edge of the pier dock thing looking out across the lake pond and both her arms pop out of her shirt.
“Here,” she said. “Put this in your pocket.”
“Your bra,” I said.
“My bra,“ she said. “I won’t be needing it.”
“You won’t?” I said.
“Nope!” she said.
And she up and gives me this gentle kind of full body shove and I reel back and well end up in the drink, and she jumps in right alongside me and comes up with this shit-eating grin on. And we are standing there, waist deep, in the water (which was kind of brackish) standing there, me a bit flabbergasted with this bra wadded up in my fist, and her with the shit eating grin on.
“Wet tee-shirt contest,” she said. “I win!”
“You win…” I said.
“I win!” she said. “By default.”
“You do,” I said. “By default.”
So we climbed up and out squishing sodden and I remember watching her, and they were pretty perky prior, but more so now then and well we ended up in bed for about a week, our damp clothes and pizza/Thai delivery strewn about the room.
“You didn’t finish your story,” she said.
“My story?” I said.
“How you met Jesus,” she said.
“That story,” I said.
“Finish it, the story,” she said.
She had flomped back the sheets and sat upright. Pulled her knees to her chest with this bare-bottomed rocking attentive motion. Kindergarten story-time and milk in the tiny carton. And so I propped up on one elbow and told how I had hitched down the coast, from Seattle to Ukiah. And how just outside Crescent City, I’d sat and rested on a stretch of guard-rail at the top of a hill with my thumb out and noticed this large floppy hat pedaling up the hill.
“A hat riding a bike,” she said.
“It was attached,” I said. “The hat to a body.”
“Attached,” she said. “Floppy, to a body.”
“Right,” I said. “Floppy hat body pedaling.”
“Got it,” she said.
And so I tell her how this guy rides up on an old Schwinn 10-speed, with a black bag strapped to the back hat flopping. He kicks the stand down on this rickety bike and walks up beside me.
“Good morning,” he says.
“Morning,” I say.
“Do you walk in Grace?” he says.
“Grace?” I say.
“In Grace, do you walk in Grace?” he says.
“I’ve walked a bit today,” I say.
“In Grace?” he says.
“I suppose, in Grace,” I say.
“Wonderful!” he says. “Have you eaten?”
“Not yet today so much,” I say.
“I have plenty,” he says. “Would you care to partake?”
“Sure,” I say.
And as I tell her this, her crotch is there rocking, across from me rocking and she is humming. It was all very distracting. I mean what with the word Grace and all. A pleasantly, uncomfortable distraction I guess… as I recollect anyhow.
I told her how he (the guy in the floppy hat) starts undoing all these cords and straps holding the black plastic bag to the back of the bike and pulls out some Safeway buck-a-loaf French-bread and a can of sardines, and sits there on the guard-rail next to me forking bits of fish onto tore off chunks of bread. And tells how he has pedaled down from Portland, on his way to a wedding in San Francisco and only a couple flats so-far. And we polish off the bread and sardines right down to scrubbing the oil out of the tin and he straps together everything, straddles the bike, and tugs the floppy hat cord to his chin.
“Go in Peace Brother,” he says.
“I will do that,” I say.
And he pedals off. Never saw the guy again, I tell her crotch rocking.
“Crazy,” she said.
“Hey,” I said.
“Yes?” she said
“What’s your cats name?” I said.
“Smithsonian,” she said.



And so yes I told the landlady, I would paint over the red wall, the one wall in the bedroom that was red. Yes, I would paint the wall, cover up the red prior to vacating the premises. It was a deposit thing. Yes. And well, the wall was pretty red.

So yeah, I purchased all the materials and piled them on an old bed-sheet in the middle of the room where the bed used to be. Paint, stir-sticks, roller-handle, roller-cover, and a couple of brushes. I figured two coats.

Well, it took three coats. To cover it up, the red on the wall in the bedroom. It was a tidy affair, the first two coats, The third coat did the trick, but I could have rolled out a fourth. Coat.

“This wall,” she said. “I want to paint this wall.”
“That wall?” I said.
“This wall, red,” she said.
‘That wall red,” I said.
“This red,” she said. “Fire-engine red.”
“Fire-engine red,” I said.
“We can do it together,” she said. “paint the wall red.”
“Red together, this wall,” I said.
“The wall next to the baby’s room,” she said.
“Adjacent to, the baby’s room,” I said.
“The power!” she said. “The power of red, as a color.”
“Next to the baby’s room?” I said.
“We can move the bed back,” she said.
“Back from the wall,” I said
“The power,” she said. “That’s what you say, right?”
“Back from the wall?” I said
“Red,” she said. “The power.”
“Some power,” I said.



So I am thinking it was a four-door Chevy, a Laguna maybe, with the half sandwich Driver Education board stuck in yellow on top and a little blurb about ‘Makes Frequent Stops’ attached to the rear. It was magnetic, the blurb was which the instructor Mr. Maven peeled off an tossed in the trunk after each summer morning daily session. The car was blue.

An apex as far as summers go, that summer was I suppose. Tabitha Sweeny had swapped her forehand/backhand drills (the 9-to-11 slot) for an hour or so of in car, supervised driver training amongst the backstreet Elm and Dogwood shaded lawns and 4-way stops yield to the right turn-signal…and so on and so forth.

I served buckets of balls most all mornings. Worked on my toss. I remember Tabitha generally hit against the wall prior to drills. I had watched her hit that morning and noticed that she had developed a smooth terse way of putting all her weight on and bending her right leg when she came in low, racquet back. During the follow thru she came up off the ground a foot at least. Some power.

So anyhow, it was a couple days later I guess. I am lugging my bucket of balls around and the coach comes up fumbling for a match.
The coach always had a pack of Marlboro 100’s in his front pocket, one lit in his hand and a racquet in the other. He typically mostly smoked and shouted. That’s what the coach did.

“You got a match Diaz?” he said.
“I don’t smoke,” I said.
“Right, found them, my matches,” he said.
“Good morning coach,” I said.
“Good morning,” he said. “Ok, look Diaz…we have a situation here.”
“Coach?” I said. “A situation?”
“Yes, well…Tabitha,” he said.
‘Some power,” I said.
“She’s dead,” he said.
“Dead?” I said.
“Yes,” he said. “It’s all very murky.”
“It?” I said.
“The dynamic,” he said. “The situation as it seems/appears.”
“Murky?” I said.
“It appears so,” he said. “A bit murky.”
“A dark oozing murk?” I said.
“That’s redundant Diaz,” he said.
“Coach?” I said.
“So rumor has it she failed her driving test,” he said.
“Driving?” I said.
“And then something about her bedroom closet,” he said.
“Closet,” I said.
“That’s all I know,” he said. “It’s all very muddled, murky.”
“Muddled murk,” I said.
“Diaz,” he said.
“Coach,” I said.
“Keep your chin up and your racquet back Diaz,” he said.



The phone-booth was a rickety glassed aluminized contraption tucked away in the corner of the break-room next to the pop machine. The guys on swing were filing in so it must have been around 6:30 or so.

As we spoke, the hum of the mill would permeate the booth each time the break-room door swung open then settle to a muffled hiss as the door slowly closed. Barroom-phisst, baroom-phisst. And every other guy it seemed got a pop. Baroom-phisst-kerchunk, barroom-phisst, barroom-phisst-kerchunk, barroom-phisst. Like something large waltzing stepping on the noise and squishing the air out of it.

So anyway, the gal on the other end said she was from ‘The Times’ and doing a story on inner-city junkies, methadone programs, and how they (the junkies) were dropping like flies what with all the good dope on the street and all.
Said she’d heard about Pedal and thought perhaps a suburban/domestic/OMG! slant might be good, and would I feel up to a little Q-n-A on said slant. I supposed.

“Were you aware of her addiction?” she said
“Yes” I said.
“Did her addiction affect your relationship?” she said.
“The effect was nominal I guess,” I said.
“How so?” she said.
“How?” I said
“The aspects of the affect, to the relationship,” she said.
“It was noticeable, the effect,” I said.
“In what way?” she said.
“Way?” I said
“The substance abuse, how it affected the family?” she said.
“It was just her and I,” I said.
“Were there any indications, did she leave a note?” she said.
“Yes” I said.
“Indications?” she said.
“No” I said.
“A note?” she said.
“Yes” I said.
“Where did you find it?” she said.
“Find it?” I said.
“The note,” she said.
“On the refrigerator,” I said.
“What did it say?” she said.
“Say?” I said.
“The note on the refrigerator,” she said.
“Take your vitamins!” I said.


Bottom of the 8th



And so I am telling her this thing, the thing we have going, it is getting weird in a socio-domestic kinda way, I am telling her. And she is all “But Pumpkin” this and that staring down at and swirling the coffee in her cup. Her hair is up in a loose almost undone way and she is wearing pretty much what she woke up in I suppose, since I guess she has been sleeping on the couch downstairs the past few days nights. It’s not all that early, she dumped her kids off at school so it must be at least nine. The sun is sorta poking around the end of the block and causing a bit of a glint off the red vinyl seat backs. The traffic is stop and go, but we are sitting in the booth facing the intersection of Main and Magnolia so that explains that, the stop and go anyhow.

It has been raining a bunch, most all winter and the city people are sodden. The urban beings have this curious, frizzy look screwed onto their face, like they are going to barf, or shoot someone or both. I ride the ferry in most each morning so I have a fresh pre-dawn exposure to it, the screwed on expression each wear. The Mariners start spring training in a few weeks so I am pretty cool with everything except well this whole thing Pedal and I have going.

“So Pedal” I say. “This thing, this thing we have going is getting messy gooey maybe.”
“Messy gooey maybe” she says.
“Might be,” I say.
“So what are you saying?” she says.
“Your work your kids,” I say.
“Work is fine,” she says “Kids are fine.”
“And Thomas?” I say.
“Let’s runaway,” she says. “Somewhere sunny.”
“Runaway?” I say.
“Somewhere sunny,” she says. “Arizona maybe”

Vivian is calling from the back, the kitchen where it is dark except for the single bulb glow above the grill where she putters in a grimy red sweater and apron. She calls everyone sweetie and only does bacon and eggs or ham and eggs. It is a funny deal, her system what with no waitress. You pour your own coffee (us regulars take turns making it, the coffee) then meander to the back and chat up Viv. I usually do bacon/scrambled/white toast and we talk about the weather, baseball, and her arthritis. Pedal being here has kind of messed with our routine.

“Don’t do it sweetie,” she says.
“Don’t do it?” I say
“The girl sweetie,” she says. “Don’t do it.”
“The girl?” I say.
“She wants to be rescued,” she says.
“Rescued?” I say
“Don’t do it,” she says.
“It?” I say.
“Eat your eggs,” she says.

So I respect Vivian and all, but this rescue thing? I mean I get stoned and watch baseball, I do not consider myself up to the task of rescuing anyone, especially so a certain female architect. I had a pretty good gig going washing windows for the guy, and then well this Pedal thing and he up and fires me. Owes me a couple weeks pay still. Not like I blame the guy, I mean I do know what her armpits smell like I guess.

“Eat your eggs,” I say.
“She does not like me much,” Pedal says.
“She does not like you?” I say.
“Not much,” she says. “The lady in back, the kitchen, in the grimy sweater.”
“Vivian?” I say. “She’s ok.”
“Can we runaway?” she says. “Somewhere sunny Arizona maybe?”
“Runaway,” I say. “Arizona sunny maybe.”
“I have your pay” she says. “It’s all there, 800 dollars. I took it out of my account.”
“My pay?” I say. “800 bucks!”
“It’s all there,” she says. “We can runaway.”
“More coffee?” I say.
“Thanks no,” she says. “I have to go. Think about it. Somewhere sunny.”

And so Pedal strolls out in the clothes she has been sleeping on the couch in. Just like that. And I have an envelope with 800 bucks in it. I take the plates to the back to the sink.
Vivian is at the grill.
“Just who’s rescuing who around this joint?” I say.
“Goodbye sweetie,” she says.

Union station is down near the stadium. I walk by it on most evening weekend games all summer. The gal at the ticket counter asks if she can help me.

“Can you?” I say.
“Can I ?” she says.
“Help me?” I say.
“Help you,” she says.
“Somewhere sunny,” I say.
“Somewhere?” she says.
“Arizona maybe,” I say.





“Like this” he said.
“Like this?” she said.
“Like that” he said.
“That?” she said.
“More spinach” he said.
“I do not like spinach much” she said.
“Not much?” he said.
“Not spinach much” she said.
“Avocado” he said.
“Avocado’s make me sleepy” she said.
“I remember” he said.
“Why did you call?” she said.
“Why did I call?” he said.
“Yes, why did you call? she said.
“I thought it would be nice, this place” he said.
“It is nice, this place” she said.
“A Greek family runs the place” he said.
“Calzones are Italian” she said.
“Yes, Italian, go figure “ he said.
“I went on our honeymoon to Greece with my sister” she said.
“I had to work” he said.
“You had to work, and I was pregnant and threw-up the entire cruise” she said.
“You took a lot of pictures, the pictures were good” he said.
“My sister took the pictures” she said.
“Your sister took the pictures” he said.
“I was in the room barfing and my sister took the pictures” she said.
“They were good pictures, like the one on the wall behind you” he said.
“It’s a picture of an Italian vineyard, the one behind me is” she said.
“It’s a nice place, this place, a family place” he said.
“Are those walnuts?, walnuts make my mouth break-out” she said
“Can you pick them out?, the walnuts” he said.
“I can pick the walnuts out, they make my mouth hurt” she said.
“I should have waited until you got here to order” he said.
“You could have waited, my legs are stuck to the seat, the red vinyl” she said.
“Sorry about the spinach” he said.
“Are you in trouble? she said.
“Am I in trouble? he said.
“Trouble…yes” she said.
“Trouble…no” he said.
“The baby’s hamster died” she said.
“The baby’s hamster died?” he said.
“I found it this morning dead” she said.
“Did you tell the baby? he said.
“I tossed it in the dumpster at my work” she said.
“The hamster in the dumpster” he said.
“At my work, in the alley” she said.
“Poor hamster, poor baby” he said.
“No more pets just yet” she said.
“No pets no more” he said.
“No pets, none” she said.
“Remember the dead whales?” he said.
“On the coast, in Oregon” she said.
“On the coast in Oregon Bandon, the dead whales” he said.
“Your birthday day on the coast in Oregon” she said.
“All the people waiting watching for the tide to come in” he said.
“The people waiting and the smell” she said.
“You got me balloons” he said
“Yellow and green balloons in the backseat and the smell” she said.
“Sun-roof sucked them out, whoomp-whoomp-whoomp” he said.
“Dead whales and balloons yellow green on blue sky” she said.
“Do you miss them?” he said.
“Dead whales?” she said.
“The balloons, yellow and green” he said.
“…Yes” she said.