NVDT Random – Succinct

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”

Michelangelo

This quote came to me via David Limrite’s weekly ‘Go get ’em, tiger’ email for graphic artists. I found it not only timely but very applicable. The post is here if you need some encouragement to shoot high and suck and not feel bad but learn from it. Been there so many times I became my own cheerleading section.

What I really want to know is how did Mike even see that stuff, much less nail it? And Beethoven. Get out. These people should be illegal.


NVDT Random – Seriously?

No shit, really. It’s already a fact that Event Brite handles the free “tickets” to Mass. In order to maintain social distancing requirements, only a certain number are allotted.

Well, found out this week that reserved seating (tickets) to Christmas Eve services are available, social distancing math and everything. The catch is, since everybody wants to make a good show of holiness to the relatives, that reserved seating will set you back $500.

So I figured I’d go ask an authority, and who better than Robert Plant, the man who wrote the last word on the subject. I got his answer.

If you hear a rustle in the hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now, It’s just the clinking of the dolly’s wheels…

Huh, wait…

Nothing hidden or deep, meaning-wise. Simply the clinking of the dolly required to haul the cash box back to the rectory. Which is far less obscure than the sprinkling of the May queen. I mean seriously. Why’s she ‘sprinkling’ in the hedgerow?

NVDT Random – SepScene Wrimo Last One – Redneck Hemingway

Wind’s Come Up Some

“Harper.” Dupree jumped down from the mud-caked high-rise pickup. “Figured I’d find you somewhere up in here.”

“Dupe. Pull up some bumper.”

“Truck’s awful clean.” Dupree put his palm on the hood. “Ain’t been here long, either.”

“Nope.”

“Square?” Dupree offered a crushed pack of Winstons.

“Gave ‘em up. Lent an all.”

“Lent’s some done, idn’t it?”

“Seems like.”

“Gettin’ a run up on the next one?”

“Never hurts to have a little banked. Just in case. Y’all didn’t go on an get bait, didja?”

“Got a feelin’. Stopped just shy a goin’ in.”

“Good. Hate it if you’d hadda dump a bucket a shiners on my account.”

“Wouldna been nothin’. Where was it you were at, again?

“Hadn’t said.”

“Then you’d best.”

“Microtel.”

“Damn, Harp. One by Love’s an the Mac-Donald’s? Out there on the by-pass?”

“Yep.”

“Straight?”

“Man… Damn. I tell ya what.”

“I heard that.” Dupree held out his Winston, let the breeze ash it. “Wind’s come up some.”

“Some. Could use us a little rain.”

“Not in this ‘un.”

“Prob’ly right.”

“You were sayin?”

“Said ‘I tell ya what’.”

“I hearrrrd that. Ol’ ‘What’ got a name?”

“Sure she has.”

“Secret a some kind?”

“Didn’t say I knew it.”

“Sheee-it, son. Your momma know how you come up?”

“Not less you done told her.”

“Not me. Somebody oughta.” Dupree stretched himself off the bumper. “Fine afternoon for it. Microtel an all. Some kinda ‘what’, huh?”

“Damn… I tell ya what…”

“I heard ya.” Dupree flicked the Winston butt at the lake, opened his pickup door. “We fishin’ t’morrow?”

“Reckon so.”

“Didn’t get ol’ ‘Damn… Tell ya what’s’ name or number, didja?”

“Nope.”

“Liar.”

Harper shook his head. “Man… Damn.”

“I heard that.” Dupree’s truck belched black diesel. He leaned out the window, smacked the door. “Harper. Nextime we’re not fishin’ an you’re holed up there down to the Microtel with a fresh shave, a clean truck an a girl ain’t got a name busy makin’ you stupid, call somebody?”

“Yep.” Harper unwound from his bumper, took a long look at the lake while Dupree spun his tires reversing up the gravelly shoal. “I tell ya what…”

 

Sketch from Harper, Jackie and the Microtel

NVDT Random – Mo Mo Mo SepSceneWrimo

Jackson had sweated his way through his dollar-fifty black and gray thrift shop bowling shirt, thought he might be living out his last day. He swore if he got home in one piece he would never be so stupid again.

He’d walked out of his apartment three days ago to see a couple of white guys, some cholos, a skinny black guy, and a girl who looked too young, all jacking parts off his primer gray ’64 Impala. They were loading his battery, trunk mounted spare tire cover, big Holley carburetor, and the two wheels facing the street into a shit brown Dodge van. And laughing. He’d yelled “Hey! What the fuck?” and started towards them. One of the white guys pulled a knife that looked like a machete.

Once they’d gone, like a real pussy, he’d whined to his neighbors in the funky little house next door who’d come out to watch. He could hear everybody from the pajama tux summer. Don’t be a whiner. Don’t be that guy.

Well, he’d been that guy and now he was sitting in a Karpet King van in the parking lot of a new condo complex almost on the ocean in Carlsbad, San Diego County. Everything was new. The monstrous nickel-plated forty-four magnum resting on the window sill of the van fit right in with all the fresh paint, shiny doorknobs and mail drops. Jackson mentally added never tell a neighbor you don’t know very well you need to make some quick cash to his list of rules to live by.

The sharp-dressed man with the gun had folded the van’s mirrors in, told Jackson to turn the rearview mirror to the dash, keep his hands on the wheel and look straight ahead. And don’t be stupid.

“Like bein’ here in the first place?”

“Comedian, yeah? I like it.” Magnum man, casual. Like everyone made small talk with a forty-four magnum in their hand. “You owe the dudes give you this van money or something?”

“No, man,” Jackson said from the back of his throat. “I’m getting paid.”

“Good for you. Clean is the only way, man. You kinda look like a dude could be from Karpet King, you know? So you get stopped, you’re not high, you been layin’ carpet all day, don’t know who put that shit in your truck.” He glanced at the rear of the van for a split second. “Me, I don’t mess with coke no more, ‘cept as business. The only time I ever wanted some was right after I did some, you know? So if I don’t do it, I don’t want it.”

“I knew a girl once who said that about sex. I tried to study on it a couple of times. Didn’t help much. Couldn’t pay attention.”

“Sex or blow?” They both laughed a small, tight, quiet laugh. Magnum man shot the shit with him about how girls shouldn’t put so much stiff crap in their hair like they did, and how short bangs were shit on kids and grown women should forget it. How Art Monk was the only keeper in the first round of the draft. How the nine-and-seven Rams even made it to the Super Bowl just to get their asses kicked was all politics. They both heard the back doors of the van close. The big gun came off the sill of the van, back but still straight on him. Magnum man reached in his sport coat pocket, handed Jackson a postcard from a Santa Barbara motel and a Mapsco page.

“Drive back to El Lay, smart and easy, like the working man you are. Drop the van at the address in the ‘to’ box. The map’s marked up for you, same as how you got here. Park the van, forget where you left it, take a walk. Like a mile or so. Call a friend or a cab.”

Jackson followed the directions to the letter. He didn’t have cab money but his neighbor Star had a POS Pinto that ran okay since he’d worked on it for her, and a soft spot for him since he’d been keeping an eye on her daughter after school and helping her with homework. He called Star, waited for her in an industrial cleaning company parking lot just off the Gardena Freeway in Rancho Dominguez. A perfect place to disappear. Every set of headlights that went by he wondered if that hadn’t been the plan all along.

***

When he climbed out of Star’s Pinto at their apartment building a young kid in a beanie appeared, handed him an envelope, disappeared back into the night. Inside the envelope was the rubber-banded six hundred dollars in twenties he’d been promised. He’d heard it was worth more, but he hadn’t crossed a border. And he was alive. He peeled three twenties off the top and handed them to Star.

“Enough? More?”

“If you have a couple of pizzas in that envelope that can be here before Sky’s bedtime we’re three times better than good for a short run up Long Beach Boulevard.” Star rarely smiled, but she one arm hugged him before going around to her door. “I have a couple of cold beers. Medium pepperoni with extra cheese for Sky and she’ll really think you’re a god. Get you and me something with more than one vegetable, along with this?” She held up the sixty bucks. “I might agree with her.”

***

The third time the neighbors informed him that he was driving again they told him, as usual, “Tomorrow at seven. Pick up the van out front, deliver the postcard”.

The next morning there was no sign of his neighbors. No cars, no lights, the house quiet. He kept his fingers crossed all day, but at six-fifty-five a white Chevy van from Valorian Commercial Janitorial Services rolled up. A female, her face obscured with a scarf and hooded sweatshirt left the keys and postcard in the seat, walked away.

The address was an apartment complex in Yukaipa, San Bernardino County. A long drive. When he arrived the gun was back.

“This time you’re the dude drops those stinky blue biscuits in the pissers? Fuckin’ truck stinks, my man.”

Jackson stared at some early Halloween decorations children had taped to an apartment window. “It does. And this was a drive.”

“Not much different than the last two, this is just more out of the way. Ex-urban, they call it. Like Uptown. You know, where the fuck is Uptown? Between the ‘burbs and Downtown? And like which way? North? Is south of the 10 Under town? What’s way the fuck past East town?”

“Arizona?”

“That’s why I’ll miss you, compadre. This is your last run.” He could feel Jackson tighten up from outside the van. “No, dude, you won’t be dead unless you get lost. There’s a toker’s party pack under the passenger the seat for you, no blow because it’s bad for you. Going away present. That girl in your wallet, she special?”

“Used to be. How do you —”

“Been all through your shit. You ever do this again, nothing in your wallet but your license and some cash. Girl that pretty, somebody might get ideas. You’re a good guy, Jackson. You follow directions and don’t talk.” He lit a black and gold cigarette with his non-gun hand. “I gotta let the LB cool for a time. Those badasses hassled my guys livin’ in that house next door to you? They weren’t beginners. Didn’t steal nothing, just scared my guys into shitting themselves, put their minds in diapers. So bad I have to get a new crew.” He popped a couple of smoke rings, studied his smoke.

“Didn’t see those dudes coming, Jackson. I pay, you know, so I see the locals, the government. This was some private fuckin’ army out of nowhere fucked up my crew. Bad motherfuckers, not head cases. Professional, quiet. Kind of guys make shit vanish. Like dictators or coke dealers or anybody pisses them off. So badass they scared me and all I saw was what they left behind. I thought you might be connected, so I went deeper on you. I know, you haven’t ripped me off, lightened your load or made any contact. But maybe you have some friends. Had to check. Business is business.”

“I don’t know —”

“That’s why you get a going-away present. If you did know we’d have to stop being friends. Then you’d be dead. And even if you don’t know nothing about some crew of invisible badasses I’m thinking, you know, maybe I’d be dead right behind you. Two good looking dudes like us? That would break a lot of hearts.” Magnum man held the gun down at his side, patted the door of the van. “Here’s your postcard.” He waved his hand casually as he stepped back. “Whose idea was the piss biscuit truck?”

“I thought you picked them. Like these guys owed you money, you borrowed the trucks.”

“Too much work, too many people. My man Lonnie usually steals them but he took up with a stripper, her boyfriend didn’t think much of him. So I used that red-headed guy this time. He must not like you.”

“Yesterday, when they told me to make this run? He said I looked like a guy who drove a Chevelle SS and stole his girlfriend.”

“He thinks everybody looks like that guy. Wasn’t you, was it?”

“No. Know how he feels. Mine got stolen by an old college in England.”

“You gotta feel better about that, though, than if it had been some skinny dude from Modesto with a SS and perfect hair. That shit could really turn you. Especially the hair. Hard to argue with the SS, but a bitch could let you know you need to up your style before she walks, you know?”

NVDT Random – Even Mo SepSceneWrimo ad nauseum

Yesterday was Philip Stanhope’s birthday. Three cheers to a man who knew what to do with a boring book!

“Sheeapollous, Cina. What the hell?”

Cina flung the mess from her hands, ran them under a small waterfall that appeared spontaneously. “Thanks, Teth. You’re a real Goddess. You’ve heard of crappy books?”

“Oh Big Z, yes.” Teth sidestepped the muck that puddled around her friend. “They’re everywhere. Every asshole with ‘cus’ or ‘otle’ or ‘es’ in his name thinks they need to share their wit and wisdom. What is all this, um…”

“Shit? Crappy. Books. In our day I’d have the odd scroll turn up, more as commentary on the author from a peer. Most of the time they’d biodegrade on their own and I wouldn’t have to lift a finger. But now? They’ve really kicked it up.” She toed a mass of pulp. “That’s Homer. Was Homer. And…” she turned left, right, “yes… that’s Zeno. Or Zeno reconstituted by some idolator. They can’t think for themselves these days, it’s all rewrites and posturing. The sheer amount of Rowling fan fic alone would clog Okeanos if I took a day off.”

“That explains Big Z rounding up some help for you from the lute layabouts. What are they doing down there that’s caused this strain on the systems?”

“You won’t believe me, Teth. And really, a Goddess of your demeanor, you don’t want to know.”

“Don’t bullshit a bullshitter, Cina. Goddess to Goddess, what’s the deal?”

“Well, I blame Philip. Back in what, 1747? It wasn’t his idea, really, but he did spread it around. And now with this Covid-19 thing and toilet paper being in short supply, it’s escalated to the point where…Well, look at me! Covered in shit from one end of the rainbow to the other and nowhere near caught up. It’s…I don’t know, Teth. Just too much.”

“If there was an answer in there, Cina dear, I missed it. What, no look at me, what, exactly, are they doing that’s got your sewers in such a state?”

Cina looked Teth in the eyes, fought back the tears. “They’re ripping pages out of shitty books and making them shittier.”

“How can a shitty book possibly become –”

“By wiping their asses with them!”

There was a long, pregnant silence. Teth erupted in un Goddess-like laughter.

“Oh Big Z! Cina, how horrible. It’s bad enough they were crappy in the first place, but now? Dear Big Z…” Her laughter diminished to giggles and she raised the small fountain over Cina’s head and let it run till Cina was sparkling clean. “Now there’s a presentable Goddess.  Let’s go see how Z’s doing with rather-be-luting-than-working crowd. They need to get off their asses anyway and get to musing. There’s as much shitty music going around as there are shitty books.”

“Don’t I know it. Good for me their media is incompatible with the function and won’t fit in their current disposal system or I’d really be in deep shit.”

“That’s the best part about being a Goddess. Never having to deal with, you know, poop and all that.”

Cina shot her a look.

“Sorry, C. I mean unless poop is like your job.”

***

Excerpt of a letter from Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, to his illegitimate son Philip. 12/17/1747

-I knew a gentleman, who was so good a manager of his time, that he would not even lose that small portion of it, which the calls of nature obliged him to pass in the necessary-house; but gradually went through all the Latin poets, in those moments. He bought, for example, a common edition of Horace, of which he tore off gradually a couple of pages, carried them with him to that necessary place, read them first, and then sent them down as a sacrifice to Cloacina: this was so much time fairly gained; and I recommend you to follow his example. It is better than only doing what you cannot help doing at those moments; and it will made any book, which you shall read in that manner, very present in your mind. Books of science, and of a grave sort, must be read with continuity; but there are very many, and even very useful ones, which may be read with advantage by snatches, and unconnectedly; such are all the good Latin poets, except Virgil in his “AEneid”: and such are most of the modern poets, in which you will find many pieces worth reading, that will not take up above seven or eight minutes. Bayle’s, Moreri’s, and other dictionaries, are proper books to take and shut up for the little intervals of (otherwise) idle time, that everybody has in the course of the day, between either their studies or their pleasures.

 

Cloacina – Greek Goddess of Sewers

Tethys – Greek Titan Goddess of fresh waters