location: san francisco, ca
story title: how death came to sandovar rudd
You’ve got to hand it to the weather. Sometimes it just knows when to rain. Like today, when I don’t have an umbrella handy, and there’s no food here, and I’ve got to wear my nice wool jacket. Don’t ask me about the jacket. When it comes to the jacket I’ve got no idea. It’s got to be worn. I don’t want it to get wet. So, here I am, stuck. That’s about all you’ll get out of me. But if the circumstances permit-- and when it comes to circumstances I don’t know much-- I might get lucky and catch a cold. The circumstances have to permit it though. Permission must be acquired, like a new hat or a botched haircut. Let’s agree on principle. Here, let’s have at it then. When the whole bucks, and we part, then, of course you’ll see a marginal amount of detail in the differences between the color and loop. A barn burns so we like fire. It’s a matter of distinction. Pride and goofing off. Greed leaves us subtle. Then, also of course, a miserable amount of grief stomps in with two-by-fours strapped to its feet like skis. You’d be better off just splitting the returns. I know, when it comes to returns we’re more even keel. I understand this. Bottle caps scattered around the shore. I’ve got my scars too. Let’s talk equipment. If it’s necessary to be liked then we’d do well to wish for ailments. Don’t worry. When it comes to ailments there’s not a lot of aught to. If we’re talking ailments, well, call me a water hog all you want, but there’s thunder in my cereal. Nobody’s as funny as they think. Hell, there’s a mission statement in my coffee cup. I’d draw you a map, but my face will cringe. And I’m the one left pulling strings on the inside, hefting garbage bags down to the trashcans in the basement, and chinning up to the moon. Well call me Lady Day and tie a ribbon around my neck. I’ve got facts to figure out. I’ve got cases to explain. We’ve got to talk cases and facts at some point. Just like alphabets try on words for size. I’m going to test the bill. Exposition rendered precisely, in the minutest of ways, kind of positive in spending habits, that’ll do for me. For me, well, there’s no real try in it. Got to get mama’s house all sorted out. Of course there’s always that. That’s first on the list. Got to get those Jack In The Box burgers out of the freezer. Patch up the walls. Spackle the place up. Really, when the weather gets this way, well, it’s just like this. Quit. Get a job. Move the bulldozers over the hill. I can’t help getting needy in the wintertime. Sure, I’ve bricked my fair share of shots at getting ahead. Like being addicted to temporary tattoos, or being a little bit pregnant. For me lying is a rebellious act. I create this life, manufacture this person to be, and I wonder why people mistake me for a stranger. I won’t go on getting all morose about it. There’s no danger. It’ll be winter soon. All the drunks will come staggering in, ass-holing on about the spiritual side of things. After all, we’re lucky because we get to be humans and exist in the world the way we do. It’s just that my face doesn’t always make the right faces. That about sums up my adult life. Summing up? Well, that’s a funny thing. Like an umbrella being out of tune. I’ve done a few stints in the nuthouse. Can’t say anything too fascinating about it. Only thought about doing away with myself a dozen or so times a day. So there’s this patch of land in my head, this scrap of a thing, a borderline hysterical place that metes out parking tickets to bad memories and tries to restore peace. There’s just something about thinking that’s always eating away at itself. You go around. You come back. You bite off more than you could ever chew, and then get frustrated with your own cud. And so then you go and lop off a snake-like chunk of the thought that’s squirming here and there and everywhere, and pander to it some, and there’s only one place to go back to. Yep. And there’s always something lurking just around the corner like holy god bringing down his judgment on some specified day that everybody but yours truly knows about. I offered my condolences to the Hasblitt sisters when their daddy went AWOL and shot the moon with Francine Yeller that awful February night, and there’s no telling what exactly did happen to them both, though I’m sure Mrs. Hasblitt maybe might be able to offer up some. Nobody’s asking anymore, what with the aforementioned misses now being gone to the great ballpark in the sky, through doings all her own, mainly a shotgun’s last call. Now, I don’t mean to be implying that this lovely woebegone thing had anything to do with the disappearing of those two trysters under the starry sky, but there are those whose suspicions were aroused, seeing that the petering out of Mr. Hasblitt’s amorousness for his dearly beloved wife were well known to me. He’d often gate around the yard, out where the wrecks rust and the feral dogs growl, and we’d stoop and squat and smoke hand-rolled cigarettes, Old Gold, and he’d get to yodeling on about some ripe young thing he was about to tear into. I’d let him talk. I liked the cigarettes, and it was nice to be out there getting away from my damn infernal solitude for a spell, and he had a hand pistol he’d use to scare the wild dogs away. He’d rave on about the tempest of his doings, the way his misses stunk, the hurt that was hanging onto his heart like a claw hammer. I didn’t pay it a whole lot of mind. Murder was thicker out there than in most places, and it got slimy and mucked around like week-old stew being dumped into the road. Oh, let me tell you. There was world enough and time for it all out there. People stood around and ogled. Sometimes it was like the stars were watching you too, and there’s plenty more than a lot of them. Let’s not dawdle around on the circumstances of me being close with that wily bastard. I’ll just say he showed up sometimes, and we shot the shit and smoked cigarettes out in the yard, and it was pleasant enough for a hermit like me to have some company nights. Sure, he talked rot, and was vile and rude and all what have you, but I didn’t put much stock in his ever doing much besides jabbering about what he wanted you to think we was doing. One of those talkers you just let slide because they don’t matter much to anyone except themselves. Me? I think too much. Too much cerebration. It makes me bad company. I count stars, read the bible, and gun down snakes with an old Springfield bolt-action rifle from my bedroom window. People seem to stay away. Moved out here in ’82, before the Paddington Stock & Rebar Co. moved in and sucked away a bunch of the land, putting up stakes, claiming land at next-to-nothing prices, and then trying to profit on the people who’d come to rely on that land. People got mad, but what could they do? Money won out in the end, as it tends to do. I got myself this junkyard. I did okay. I managed. Things just ended up in my yard. It was like ghosts were dropping them off in the middle of the night, and maybe they were. I never ask those kinds of questions. I just go about my ways, counting my luck on the three fingers of my left hand, the other two gone to a stray bullet when I was just scrappy kid, the where and why of which I know about none, since it was before my powers of memory reached their full potential, and, from what I was told, the pain of it knocked me out cold, and in fact my ma and pop thought I’d done gone clean dead on them. But I didn’t. I kept on breathing. And when I woke up there was my left hand all bandaged up by Doc Shivers, who mussed my hair and told me what a brave boy I’d been. Brave? Shit. I slept through the whole ordeal. I guess sometimes you miss the rainstorm but get credit for walking home through it. Anyhow, I turned out like this with eight digits, and some folks call me Mordecai still, recalling the great 3-fingered righty of the turn-of-the-century Chicago Cubs, and I took this as an honor, and now go by Mordy to most. Though what people call me isn’t a blister or a burp to me. I’m my own man. That’s obvious of course, but what it means is true. So my junkyard grew as people moved on, and the scarp heap blossomed into an eremite’s dream. Carcasses of rotting dodges flanked with sunflowers and moss-covered refrigerators. It was something to behold. Stuff just found its way to me, and stayed found for the most part. Television sets lost their knobs and dials. Glass splintered like spider webs in the sun, which bleached everything to a stale, desert hue. The rivers of rust ran wild, and like wisteria climbed over toilet bowls, lunch pails, VCRs, x-mas tree tinsel, radios, aluminum siding, cookware and computers just the same. I had buyers from time to time, but mostly it felt like a giant tomb of things people didn’t want around anymore. Maybe I felt like I was one of those things. But I’m not one to get to sentimental over objects. They get made, and they’ve got to be discarded. I do my part to help them on their way. There was a guy at my door one day, banging on the screen, and I went out there to see what all the hubbub was. This guy’s grease-splattered and unshaven, and stinks like a brewery floor. He’s got on these gold-rimmed sunglasses, and his hair is all bunched up like a tumbleweed. I don’t want to let him in, or get too close, so I only open the door a crack, and I yell at him from behind the screen with the door still latched. Turns out he’s a scholar. He wants to talk to me. He’s on some kick where he’s trying to interview the old timers like me who’ve been around here and through some stuff. I don’t like the looks of him. He’s got holes in his shoes and shirt. It seems like he’s had his pants on for about a month without changing or washing them. I just know he’s not going to be nice on my upholstery or my carpet. But for some reason I let him talk his way in there, and we get to jawing, mostly him, about the old days when I first moved in here. At first I was kind of curt with him. Didn’t want to give too much away. And being laconic’s in my nature anyway. Most days I hardly say a word except when the mail arrives. But this tawdry scholar guy, well, he’s really trying to dig in for some information, and I’m curious as to why, but mostly keep that to myself, as is my wont. I’ve learned to play it close to the vest over the years. So I get to saying a few things I probably shouldn’t, and then he starts getting into a huff about it, and my mean streak comes out in spades, and soon we’re cussing and throwing good-sized objects at each other, and I tell him to go fuck himself and all this, and he’s seeing red, and I realize that he’s not so small of a guy really, and that maybe he’d take me. I mean without weapons. But I’ve got weapons of all sorts. So, I run back to my bedroom and make sure to slam the door behind me so it thwacks him, because I know he’s coming after me, and it knocks his ass right down hard, which gives me time to grab my….well, I’m not going to go into all that. No need to implicate myself. Let’s just say, he got what was a coming, and what was a coming was a trip to county. That did him well I think. Lousy bastard. Never saw him after that. Heard he was living in Topeka, last I know, and had shacked up with a bow-tie salesman named Robert. It was odd, but I didn’t care. To each their each. That’s what I say. But me? Well, I’m done losing fingers. Let him take a shot at my head next time. That’d be okay by me. Until then? Well, it’s think, think, think. Collect junk and wonder about god. There’s nothing left I can do.