Saturday, February 20, 2010

Percy Puckets. Cloverdale's Araneolus Grandiloquus.

Percy Puckets

I spent a lifetime one afternoon trapped in a conversation with Percy Puckets, a resident of Cloverdale’s Nearly There Home for the Elderly and Infirmed. I found him at the end of the canned vegetables isle while shopping at the Piggly Wiggly last Wednesday. He seemed entranced in an attempt to decode the Truth in Labeling Sticker on two cans of vegetables. Knowing nearly every artery feeding into his heart was held open with small wire scaffolding due to his 80 plus years of poor dietary choices (he was the head cook at the Greasy Spoon Truck Stop on Highway 1 for 43 years), and knowing his blood pressure was high enough to cause his eyes to protrude just enough out of their sockets to give him a distinct Homer Simpson look, I felt confident that he was considering which can of Lima Beans his cardiologist would approve for his Thursday lunch. He was, after all, on such a strict no salt diet that taking a dip in the ocean was even forbidden.

Percy heard my cart’s wobbly wheel as I stopped suddenly near the instant potatoes and attempted to back away out of Percy’s isle in stealth mode.
“Victor, is that you?” he shouted. Oh, did I forget to mention Percy's gradual loss of hearing? Percy dropped both cans to the floor - denting them - a trick he used regularly knowing the manager would put the dented tins in the bargain basket at the front of the store where he could purchase them at 1/2 off.

“Yes Percy,” I said while exaggerating my pronunciation, giving him a better chance of reading my lips. He waved me closer. That’s when I knew I’d “Had my Chips,” as they say in the old country. I was the fly trapped in the web of one of the world’s deadliest spiders, the Araneolus Grandiloquus (The Speaking Spider). It beguiles its victims with a coy friendliness drawing a sense of curiosity out of the victim before getting close enough to lock onto your arm and hold you tight while it sucks consciousness away.

I froze like a deer in headlights, locked into paralysis by his bulging eyes and smile accented by coffee stained teeth. He hooked my left arm, filled his lungs with enough air to power his vocal chords for a good two hours, and started. At thirty minutes into this one way conversation he’d covered the bible, modern secularism, and America’s love affair with Israel. I felt like the passenger of a doomed ocean liner, drifting in the ice cold water of the North Atlantic, clinging to a deck chair while scanning the horizon for a plume of black smoke announcing the arrival of a rescue ship. I watched either end of the isle, hoping and praying for someone else to turn the corner in search of Pinto Beans or Golden Corn.

Overhead I watched one of the store’s security cameras turning toward me. It locked onto my position. My heart lept. I was lost, but found. A beep over the intercom preceded an announcement.
“Clean Up on Canned Goods. Code Percy,” spoke a young female voice.
“Hope Springs Eternal,” I whispered to myself rubbing my arm to restore feeling. His solid grasp was preventing an adequate supply of blood flow.

“What Did you Say?” Percy asked, shocked that someone would participate in a conversation. Something he’d not experienced since his first year of marriage. 
I remained silent, knowing anything else said by me would translate into an additional thirty minutes of entrapment. Why? He interrupted your comment as interest. Deadly.....

The announcement attracted attention. My fellow shoppers gathered at each end of the canned goods isle. Their faces wore the same broad range of expressions the ancient Romans wore as they witnessed Christians being fed to the lions. I saw looks of horror, shame, mercy, pity and enjoyment.

My captor was neck deep into a discussion of fiscal responsibility and the imminent collapse of the American dollar when a teen age boy broke through the onlookers. He wore the red vest of a Piggly Wiggly employee. He pushed a bucket and mop towards us. A white badge with Red Cross was pinned to the vest. He was my Saint Bernard. He crept up behind Percy, all the while holding a finger to his lips telling me not to say anything or look in his direction. I could tell he was trained in this kind of rescue. He silently pulled the mop from bucket’s extractor, put it to the floor pushed it towards Percy’s feet.

“What?” Percy said feeling something strike his white tennis shoes. At that moment he released his grasp on my arm to spin around and see who was there. I was free! The boy motioned me to go. I didn’t need to be told twice. I was gone.

A few minutes later, as I quickly checked out I found the teen bagging groceries.
“Thanks,” I said. “You saved me at least another hour.”
“No problem,” he replied. “I do it all the time. Percy comes in here daily to buy a couple of things and every day finds someone new to bother.”
“How did you get away from him?” I asked.
“With these,” the boy showed me the earphones extending from the iPod he wore on his belt. “I have these in. He starts talking and I pretend I don’t hear him. You know us teenagers. We always have music pounding into our heads. He gives up after a moment or two and moves along.”

I slipped the boy the change from my purchases as a tip and quickly returned to the world where normal people always say “Fine” when asked how they are doing, and both parties leave it well enough alone at that.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Returning to Cloverdale from the Land of the Dead...

Hello All,

Today I fought and clawed my way back into the world of Cloverdale thanks to modern science.

It was Monday evening. I was laying in bed enjoying my nightly dose of British Comedies on Cloverdale Weekend Television, laughing at something Rene said in Allo’ Allo’ when a swallow brought pain. The next morning my throat and the Olympic flame in Vancouver had one thing in common - FLAME! I knew that pain. It was the pain all teachers know - Strep Throat! Most likely passed to me from some small human who sneezed in my face while I stood in the check out line at the Piggly Wiggly, covering me with droplets of mucus swimming with the bacteria.

I called the Cloverdale Clinic and was lucky enough to be squeezed in for a check up. My temperature was 102.5 degrees.
“There’s a nice pus pocket,” my doctor said in reference to one of my tonsils. I nodded. I didn’t need him to tell me my throat was seething in strep.
“Hows your gag reflex?” he asked.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, mine is 15,” I replied. Meaning I start gagging as the cotton swab passes my front teeth. “I’ll be quick about it then,” he replied.

Out came this elongated swab on a wooden stick nearly long enough to be used as a fireplace match. I closed my eyes thinking that if I didn’t see it entering my mouth I wouldn’t start gagging. It was a good strategy. I was find until the cotton came in contact with the pus pocket.
“Sorry, Sorry, Sorry but I need to be sure to get enough,” he explained in believable sympathy.

He put the swab into the autotester, put in a drop or two of some magical liquid and, as if by magic, a red + appeared in the window. I left with a prescription of some form of penicillin I couldn’t pronounce but was gratefully for nevertheless. I didn’t spare the gasoline as I raced to Cloverdale's Chemist to fill the prescription. I couldn’t get that first pill into my mouth fast enough.

Now, a confession of my stupidity. I had this strange delusion that once that adsuthflwohgjriuieoeillin (or whatever it was) entered my blood stream those little strep bacteria would sound a full scale retreat. I sat in my car waiting for relief. I drove home and still nothing. I wondered if the Chemist had pawned a bad batch of the stuff on to me. Either that or my medicine was years past its sell by date.

I woke up Wednesday morning feeling just as bad. Then the worry set in. I just knew, using my imagination as proof, that my doctor had misdiagnosed my infection. Instead of strep, I convinced myself I had that flesh eating staff infection that kills in a day or two. It had taken root in my tonsils and was in conference, planning a break into the main artery that supplied my brain with blood. I could almost hear the oooAhhhh’s from the little marine bacteria as they gathered along the artery wall, waiting for the breech and invasion. Yes, all of this was passing through my mind as I sat at the Kitchen bar struggling to swallow spoonfuls of cottage cheese.

I continued to take my dkgjrufkdlmvnfjejecillin and went on with my daily activities. All day I waited to hear the faint sound of a bugle as millions those little staffs got the order to “ATTACK”. Strangely enough, around 6:00 P.M. I started feeling a bit better. I was able to eat a semi normal supper of soup and ice cream. At bed time I felt good enough to laugh at Rene in Allo’ Allo’, my 10:30 P.M. nightly stop on Cloverdale Weekend Television.

This morning found me feeling somewhat better. The fever is gone but my throat still hurts like the dickens. The good news is that I’m getting a bit better as each day passes.

Anyway, I’m feeling somewhat better and happy to see everyone again. Please do me a favor though. If our path's cross, please do not step away from me in horror. I may look like warmed over death but doesn’t that sum up my appearance most days?


Monday, February 15, 2010

Jefferson Found Happiness.

Jefferson Blinker

Jefferson Blinker lives with his parents, two sisters, and elderly Grandmother in a modest two story brick home on the corner of Juniper and Elm Streets in Cloverdale. He attends Confederacy Elementary School and is considered by his teacher Miss Amber to be soft spoken, shy, and nearly unnoticed.

Jefferson sits on the front row closest to the window, by his request. He finds it easier that way - not only to see the board better, but also to keep his bad eye out of everyone else’s view. The teasing and laughter are things his heart can hardly bare so he protects himself by becoming invisible. He is the first to arrive at school. He sits closest to the window so he can look out as the others come in. He never raises his hand to speak and always steps back into the crowd when volunteers are called for. He has no opinions and never participates in group work.

In third grade Jefferson discovered special education. He noticed that the Special Education children were dismissed from class for several hours each day. One day, while walking by their classroom on his way to lunch, Jefferson noticed the Special students sat around one table. They were laughing and talking. He also noticed the Special students tended to be nicer to him than the others. Perhaps they knew what its like to be a bit different.

Jefferson watched the Special students closely to see what they did to get into the program. Many of them couldn’t read very well. Others had problem with their math. The ones that couldn’t read and couldn’t do their math were out of the classroom the longest. Jefferson knew what he had to do.

For the next few months Jefferson’s schoolwork declined at an alarming rate. His parents were called in for consultations. When asked why, Jefferson always replied “I just don’t get it.” Jefferson was examined by the family doctor and found to be in perfect health.

One night Jefferson realized he needed to take his quest to a new level. He went into his mother’s room, and layed beside her on the bed. He starting crying. He found it easy to cry. He carried enough in his heart to cry all day long if he wanted to.
“I need extra help at school,” he whispered to his mother. “I don’t understand what the teacher is talking about all the time.”
“Honey, do you want to go into the Special program for slower students? Is that what you want? I don’t understand what's happening Jefferson. You always did good in school. What’s happening?” his mother pleaded for understanding. Jefferson shrugged his shoulders. It was hard lying to her.

Two weeks later Jefferson started half day Special Education. He discovered it to be a safe place where he could let down his guard and be a natural curious boy. His mother noticed a marked improvement in his attitude about school. Her boy was coming home happy. Jefferson liked school, for the first time in his life. His Special teacher was kind and listened. She insisted every child participate and taught them self respect. She encouraged them to rise above their problems and work to overcome difficulties.

There were many times Jefferson wanted to get A’s for his new teacher, to show her how much he loved her. But he knew that if he did he would eventually be ‘mainstreamed‘ back into his room with 30 other students. It was something he couldn’t do.

So today, Jefferson is in the 4th grade. He spends half a day in Special Education and the other half in a normal classroom.

He’s a happier boy who carries a special secret everywhere he goes.

Cloverdale Weekend Television. Mellow Rock on Monday. Crying

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sally Klien, Master Baker and Professional Protester.

Sally Klien works at Cloverdale’s Moss Wonderland Bakery. She’s up every morning at 4:00 A.M. so she has enough time to clock in at the Bakery thirty minutes later. Sally enters through the back door, turns on the lights and sets to work preparing the dough for the morning’s first fresh hot loafs of bread and rolls. Mr. Moss arrives at 6:00 A.M. to start on the day’s cakes. He and Sally enjoy a cup of hot coffee after he’s had time to take off his coat and hat. They both consider themselves experts on world affairs and enjoy their ten minute debates before other duties call them away.

The bakery opens at 7:00 A.M. Sally continues her work in the back away from the busy front counter. The shop quickly fills with locals stopping in for something quick, hot and tasty on their way to work. Sally has always wanted to work the front counter but Mr. Moss won’t hear of it. He insists Sally’s true talent is in her baking. Her rolls are simply to die for, as the poster accurately states in the front window. Sally yields to her employer’s wishes. She knows she makes excellent pastries but yearns for the human interaction that comes from the front counter.

At 12:30 P.M. Sally clocks out. Traditionally she and Mr. Moss take tea and biscuits in the staff room before she leaves. And again, as they always do, they solve the world’s problems, wondering why the world’s leaders refuse to see solutions as plain as the noses on their faces.

Her afternoon walk home is never rushed. Sally lives alone so there is nothing pressing waiting for her. Being single in a small village can mean loneliness so Sally does what she can to branch out and meet other like minded single adults.

One thing Sally enjoys more than anything else are protest rallies. She scourers the daily newspapers daily looking for demonstrations in Capital City. It doesn’t matter whats being protested, Sally will protest anything, as long as she’s with a group of civic minded people willing to stand up and speak their minds. Surely someday, if she attends enough of them, she’ll find someone to date and perhaps marry. At least that’s what she hopes.

Sally keeps one sign at the ready near the front door. It has never let her down in the past. Its a real attention grabber and that’s what she’s seeking - Attention.

Friends I present Sally Klien of 32 Orchard Road, Cloverdale.

Cloverdale Weekend Television. Valentine's Day Celebrations of Love

Love continue after Time ends.
And when all else fades to black,
Our Love and Memories will chart new courses, beyond Time's grasp;
Bursting Free to forever light Our way.