Multi-Task

I told her I was sorry, I apologized for the ants. All the friggin ants.
The sleeping bag that night I tossed over the ant-pile.
A light, she said I should have had a light.
I guess I wasn’t thinking, least of which ants?
A light would have been good I supposed.
And I apologized, admitted I was wrong
getting so lit, all the vineyards and all.
And that porcelain piece at the last gallery.
Yes, I told her, I should have let you drive.
You were right.
And I am telling her these things. Looking at my role
through this crummy red phone. And she is on, what seems the real far side of a piece of plexi-glass, or whatever but pretty thick.
And she is not happy.
I am sympathetic with regards to the whole Bondsman ordeal, I tell her. I appreciate your patience in the matter, I say.
The red phone is heavy
She is no longer up to this task, Clive, she says.
I understand, I say. Awkward, I say.
I may have to sit here a while, she says. While she thinks about things, she tells me.

1rst Ave

“It’s like a friggin Tom Robbins novel, “ I said.
“The view from up here.
The Five Spot up here, just over there,” I said.
“And Lake Union, The Sound, a panorama,” I said.
She was nodding like she does, and rocking in her flip-flops.
Kind of a heel toe motion, but slower.
“Denny’s, we had breakfast there,” she said.
“And The Stadium, maybe a game today,” I said.
“Baseball,” she said.

We had dinner and walked around downtown last night.
A couple bottles of wine. We were both kinda lit.
I got us a cab back to the room. We can be civil and appropriate when the pressure is on.
It is like all of our actions are slowed down prior to, then contemplated. She is no longer rocking. Her toe-nails appear recently done.

“I think this is a good place, she said. “This place, the view.” “Right here.” she said.
“A fine place,” I said. “Right here,” I said.
“You can keep the car, she said. “The Volvo, you can keep it.
But you are not allowed back in Denver,” she said.
“No more Denver?” I said.
“Not at all,” she said.
“I Keep the car,” I said.
“You keep the car, no Denver no more,” she said. “Texas if you have to.”
“Mariners or Rangers?” I said.

Her feet are planted firmly, and she is squared off at the shoulders.
She is futzing with her phone. She does tenacious well.
I admire this about her, her tenacity.
Cash-flow. This is about cash-flow mostly. She gets pretty wrankled when my choices, my dysfunctions, cut into the cash-flow.

“Get a P.O. box, and I’ll mail your dog to you,” she said.

Pulminary Stasis

The bus depot in Olympia was a damp brick affair.
The gal at the counter, well…she seemed pleasant enough.
It was February. The Northwest, and all that that entails.

“Corpus Christi,” I said. “How much?”
‘One-way?” she said.
“Yes,” I said.
“89 fifty,” she said. “One way to Corpus,” she said.
“Sold,” I said. “To Corpus,” I said.

The shelter in Corpus Christi is a concrete affair.
The sand settles in pesky tiny drifts nooks behind doors.
The cook in the kitchen was not an unpleasant sort.

“The big stuff hangs over there,” he said. “The small stuff underneath.
“Like this?” I said.
“Like that,” he said. “Under there,” he said.
“Thank You,” I said. “For the information, the instruction,” I said.

So it turns out I bunk next to the cook guy. He has some time in.
Sure he gives me the skinny on the place that night. Don’t drink and do a chore. Work party list at 6 AM. Cash at the end of the day.
Laundry on Fridays.

“How long?” I said. “How long you been in the kitchen?”
“Too long,” he said. “Couple years,” he said.
“It is a nice kitchen,” I said. “You should be proud of the kitchen,” I said.
“Teeth bother me,” he said. “And my hands ache, the hot pots.”
“But dry socks,” I said. “Any clean socks?”
“Wednesday evening,” he said. “The Salvation Army van around 11,” he said.

And so I am at the front desk before 6, I am sure.
I pencil on the work list. I am conflicted.
The guy, the cook guy, the guy I bunk next to, well he did not appear to be breathing. I mean when I got up he did not.
I am thinking the desk guy should know. But I am on the work list.
The desk guy asks if I am on the list. I tell him I signed the list and that the guy next to me, at least when I got up, did not appear to be breathing, and maybe more still now.

“He’s not breathing?” he said. “Not now?” he said.
“He did not appear to be then,” I said. “I thought someone should know now,” I said.

There was a lot of coming and going. They, the comers and goers, seemed to agree that he was not breathing and carted him off.

Harvey Gable

Flash Fiction Entry

OEM

I told her there were reasons. That it figured, the dynamic. The myth shot to pieces, as we barreled across 84 into Salt Lake.
She told me she had had dreams, dreams and ambitions. And that no God fearing, food storing, Latter Day Saint from Boise, was gonna tell her what color to paint her kitchen. She was driving a huge car. A Cadillac maybe. A red one. And that if by God, she wanted to spend the rest of the week in Cedar City with her sister doing what she damn well pleased, well then she would. Boise, a speck behind us and all.
She told me that it had been a prompting. Her picking me up.
A prompting from the Holy Spirit. I told her I was headed to St. George. Anything the other side of Salt Lake traffic was fine.
She told me the kids graduated BYU, they all lived in Provo.
She wore a coarse weave, wool perhaps. A nice contrast with the interior leather.
She told me there were days. Times she would look back upon.
Go crap what a waste of time, times. And the kids… well they all did sports, so there was that. That period of time.
I played tennis, I told her. And dropped out of high-school.
I pumped gas for 3 bucks an hour, I told her.
She told me her husband had opened a new soft-serve ice-cream franchise.
That she pretty well much steers clear of the whole operation.
I told her I wrote a poem once about ice-cream. Square ice-cream. I told her.
She told me she was gonna hole-up for the evening.
Get a room in Salt Lake. That would I like to stay. To hang-out.
Her treat, she told me.
Sure, I told her.

Hardware-Cloth

She said, “But yeah…chicken-coops.” “Chicken-coops in Idaho,” she said.
“Yes,” I said, “Chicken-coops.”
“Chicken-coops in Idaho,” I said.
I told her there were things. Familiar things.
Right angles, and form stakes, and such.
“But does it suit you?” she said. “Your situation,” she said.
“The coops suit me,” I said. “Idaho and chicken-coops suit me.”
“Are you drinking?” she said. “Are you drinking again?” she said.
“I am not drinking,” I said. “There are critters.” I said.
“Raccoons, Weasels and Hawks,” I said. “To account for,” I said.
“Are you taking your vitamins?” she said. “Your vitamins, have you been taking them?”
“I have not,” I said. “I have not been taking them.” “The vitamins,” I said.
“You should, you know,” she said.
“I know,” I said.
I told her there were a number of other things.
Un-familiar things. Things to scrutinize.
Things one might examine. But I was not specific.
The fall colors,” she said. “Spectacular, the canyon,” she said.
“Snow soon I suppose,” I said. “Winter,” I said.
“The tomatoes,” she said. “The tomatoes did real good.”
I told her about the soil. Her dirt.
The carbon/nitrogen ratio. I told her of this one thing.
But there were the chickens to consider.

Situational

He considered the damp brick, the traffic,
the sound of trash collection. These things he would miss.
The co-mingled essence of whatnot.

Susi Ichiban, he would miss Sushi Ichiban. But not parking, he would not miss parking. Olympia, Seattle, The Mariners. He would miss baseball.
He considered these things. Things of significance.
She asked if he wanted more coffee.

“Would you like more coffee,” she said.
“Please, yes,” he said.
“Rain?” she said.
“Yes,” he said. “More rain.”
“Damp, thick,” she said.
“Monday,” he said. “More rain tomorrow.”

The rain and sky in October. Crisp. And the Moon. And Mount St. Helens. And Mount Rainer. The Bookstore. He would miss the books, the musty muss of pages.
He would not miss Dune, or Jaws, or Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
He would miss Michener, and Raymond Carver he supposed.
Things with a heft.

It was important he figured… to examine such things.

“Where’re you headed?” she said.
“South,” he said. “I am headed south. Tucson.”
“Dry,” she said. “Dry and warm.”
“And sunshine,” he said.
“I suppose,” she said. There is that to consider.”
“I will do that,” he said.
“What?” she said.
“Consider it,” he said. “When I get there,” he said.

Fork-n-Spoon

I don’t know, maybe it was the way the Help-Wanted sign hung in the window,
dangling from a single frayed bit of yellowed tape at one corner.
Like the sign was implying that they might need help, and I suppose,
from the outside looking in, that I might need a job.
So yeah I’ve washed dishes I tell the guy, and he hands me an apron.
It is 9 or so. Breakfast is in full swing. The residual is piled high in the sink plural.
I fill, scrub, and load.
The joint is standing room only.
The cooks appear to be on the mark. The wait-staff are hustling.
I am  just getting to where I can see the bottom, and this waitress comes up and starts wagging a spoon in my face.
She is real close. She was drinking Scotch last night close.
“We are outa spoons Toots,” she says.
“Toots?” I say.
“Whatever Toadie,” she says, “More spoons, pronto!”
“Spoons…gotcha,” I say.
She heels herself back into the fray, and I watch the flip-side of her stride.
Well sure, but Toadie? I figure she drug herself in from an all-nighter
five minutes late ten minutes ago.
Rough shape kiddo I figure, and pile on the spoons.