Sunday, November 30, 2008

Home Three.

They returned home yesterday. Arrived about 1730. I was so glad to see them. I was so glad to hug the baby girls. I was so glad to hug my wife.

They had a good time. They went to The City on Friday as planned. Family members in Jersey insisted that they take the bus and the subway to avoid traffic and parking. Traffic and parking on a Friday in November in Chinatown?

They should have driven in. They should have taken the Holland Tunnel. They would have been in Chinatown from the grandfather's house in about twenty or thirty minutes. They probably wasted two hours with the bus and The Port Authority. Time that could have been spent enjoying Downtown.

The younger baby girl was exposed to some not so nice stuff on the subway. That makes me mad. They missed the bus on the way back out. They had to wait over an hour for the next bus. The whole thing was stupid and if I'd been there it would not have happened. My wife said they walked passed dozens of open parking spots right on the street. I said I know.

The bus and the trains are great, sometimes. Sometimes it's just better to drive.
My wife did not need to be running to try to catch a bus while keeping a close eye on the younger baby girl. The older baby girl too, but she's a little more street smart. She's just been around longer. My wife is recovering from chemo. She's been in better shape. It just makes me mad. People don't think sometimes.

On the subway they had crazy junkies and street people doin' the panhandle thing. I would have made them go away.

I remember this one time, before I met my wife. A bunch of us cops were going to Yankee Stadium. We were all in this old van that one of the guys had. So we were up in the Bronx stuck in traffic. These street thugs were harassing the motorists, looking for handouts. I'm not talking about homeless people or cripples, the kind of folks you want to help out. I'm talkin' about street thugs. Young guys taking advantage of the situation to intimidate those stalled in traffic.

As the group of six punks approached us we were ready for them. As soon as they banged on the passenger side of the van, the sliding door flew open and four of us stuck guns in their faces. You want to see six assholes go from "bad" to "oh shit" in about two seconds. None of us had our badges out. Just pistols as we jumped out of the van to confront the assholes. They backed away rather quickly. A couple of them had hands in the air as they turned on their heels and literally ran back down the block. The car behind us honked their horn and applauded. The woman in the passenger seat yelling thanks as we stuffed our sidearms back under our shirts.

So we hung out for a few minutes on the sidewalk 'til the traffic started moving again. Those guys didn't come back.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Three Days.

It's Friday night and I now have three days off. The outfit I work for gives us all off on Opening Day of buck season. I had an easy trip today. I was done in eight hours. Got home about 1445. I took the dogs out. I heated up some leftover chicken parm that my wife made before they went to Jersey. I promptly fell asleep on the couch.

Beetus called at 1905. Good thing he woke me up. I put some coffee on and took the dogs out again before I called him back. We had some laughs on the phone. Me and Beetus did. He had to go because he needed his shot. He takes insulin for diabetes. He said he was getting like a hot flash. I said, must be menopause.
He said no. He said that happens every now and then. He hasn't exactly been paying attention to his diet like he should. Thanksgiving will do that. He was trying to describe this hot flash thing. I said I've seen the chemo do that to my wife. I said the tamoxifen she'll be taking soon will do that too. He said there was a time when he would have paid to get that feeling. We both laughed. Beetus is a funny guy.

I'm slamming some coffee right now. Then I really have to start cleaning this house. It's not very messy but I want it all clean. My wife and the baby girls will be returning from Jersey some time late tomorrow afternoon. I want to cook something so they can all eat when they get home. I want to cook something they will all like. I'll have to give that some thought. I can go to the grocery store at first light.

Maybe just a little more writing on Fiction Squared. We'll have to see. First some cleaning and chores. I'd rather write. First things first I guess. Sometimes
I hate being responsible. Goes against my nature. It does make life easier. Being responsible that is. It's just not as much fun.

I have to go. Somebody stepped on a duck. No really. The dogs have this toy. It's a duck that quacks when you squeeze it, or step on it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Broil London; 1

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Logged a lot of miles this week. Produce and meat in the ice and snow on Monday. Took me forty minutes to get from 111 to 120 on I-80 eastbound. Trailer wheels slipped a little. A driver behind me came over the radio. He said we should take it easy. He said we should just get down off the hill in one piece. It's a big hill. At the top reads a sign. Highest point on 80 east of the Mississippi.

Tuesday was Pittsburgh. Snowing down there too. Crossed the Highland Park Bridge three times again. Six stops starting at 0500. Finished up at 1530. Two hours overtime. I like overtime.

Yesterday was produce and meat plus. It's a holiday schedule this week. Everything is subject to change. Got called in two hours earlier than usual for a produce run. Finished up at 1930 hours last night. More overtime.

When I got home they were gone.

My wife and the baby girls went to Jersey to spend Thanksgiving with her father, her sister and her father's girlfriend. They took the older baby girl's car. I have to stay here because I have to work on Friday. I also have to take care of four dogs and two birds.

I will be grilling in the snow today. The sun is out. I'll have to knock the snow off the top of the grill. I have a London Broil. I took it out of the freezer last night. I have some Romain lettuce, onions and a tomato. I also have a six-pack of Molson's in the fridge. Life is good.

I don't mind being alone on Thanksgiving. I'm not really alone. Four dogs and two birds. I miss my family very much. I do know that they are having a real good time. It's good for them. It's good for the girls to spend this time with their mother. It's good for her to spend this time with her family. She needs this.

I think I'm going to write today. The dogs are content, having all been given some outside time and lots of food. The birds are pretty happy too. I've got The Parrot "stepped up" on his perch. The Love Bird is............OOPS!

The Love Bird's cage is uncovered. He's now happily chirping away with fresh food and water. The younger baby girl's Betta fish has been fed as per her written instructions.

When I was up at the "big cooler" on Monday I got a call on my Trac-Fone. The "big cooler" is the perishables facility that the outfit I work for owns. It's about two miles from The Dock. Anyway, it was The Gifted Program Coordinator calling me. We received a notice from the school to schedule a meeting with her sometime in December. It's an annual thing. They need you to sign off on a form that allows your gifted kid to stay in The Gifted Program.

So The Gifted Coordinator tells me we don't have to have the meeting unless we feel like we need to discuss something. She said she could just send the form home and we can sign and return it. I said that's fine. I said that my wife and I know that the younger baby girl is doing well. The Gifted Coordinator starts going on about how well she is doing. The gifted Coordinator tells me that the younger baby girl is her smartest student. She said that the younger baby girl is so far ahead of the other kids, the other gifted kids, that it amazes her. The gifted Coordinator that is.

The Gifted Coordinator said that the younger baby girl is really patient and kind. The Gifted Coordinator said the younger baby girl's circle of friends is a good one. That's something that we know. She does run with a good crew.

If it sounds like I'm bragging. I am. Our girls are our treasures.

So after The Gifted Coordinator is done gushing about how great the younger baby girl is, I ask her this. Can you teach little Miss Einstein to put the phones back on their respective chargers? Can you teach her to put her clean clothes away and pick up her room?

Okay. I don't really ask The Gifted Coordinator those things. I just say thank you very much. I promise to call her if my wife and I feel like we need to. I tell her I don't think we need to because the younger baby girl is doing just fine. The Gifted Coordinator agrees.

I'm going to slide my feet into my slick soled work boots and put on my old Carhardt jacket. I'm going to step out back on the patio and smoke a freshly rolled cigarette. I really do need to get a new pair of boots. No traction left at all on my current pair. That sucks when you have to two-wheel down a ramp from the back of a straight truck. One day about a week ago I slid down a truck ramp with a loaded two-wheeler out in front of me. I didn't lose it. I do need to get myself some new boots.

Coffee and a smoke.

I know I have to quit smoking. My wife and I have discussed it. She will tell me when. She quit already. The whole cancer thing. Smoking does not cause breast cancer. The experts have told us that. Anyone who thinks it does is an idiot. It does not change the fact that she had to quit. The only reason I have not quit yet is because we did that before. We both quit together and it was terrible. We were at each other. I ended up staying at a friends house for a few days. That's how bad it was. This time will be different. When her stress levels have gone down enough, then she will tell me it's time. I'll get the gum.

I'm really going to miss smoking. Maybe one day I'll be able to enjoy a good cigar. I always like a good cigar. I never inhaled a good cigar. It ruins it if you inhale. One of my best memories is enjoying a real Cuban with several cups of black coffee. It was on the deck behind my friends house. We were partners when we were both cops. We went to the academy together. After we put in our rookie time they let us ride together. We worked well as a team.

That Cuban and coffee time came after a real bad night at work. A baby had died. It's never good. No matter how much experience you have. It's never good. A little part of your humanity fades away. I had two of those calls in my time on the job. When you're a cop you're expected to fix the problem. To save the baby. It don't always work out that way.

So that Cuban and coffee time was one of the best not because of what happened the night before. It was the best because of how it helped so very much the day after. We just sat there on his little deck. We didn't talk. We just enjoyed. I know it sounds strange. I can't put it into the right words. It was better than the first time I had a D.O.A. baby call. This is getting too messed up. I'm afraid that someone who reads this will not understand.

If anyone who reads this has lost a child. Or anything like that. Or knows someone who did. I am so very sorry.

Time for me to suck it up. I have my treasures. I can't imagine losing them. I have no reason to..............Oh God why do these things have to happen.

I am so very thankful for my wife and beautiful girls.

Hey Tommy. I'm going to try to right some fiction on my fiction blog. I do mean right. At least on paper you can right some wrongs when you write.......

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Don't know what it is about that overnight Pittsburgh run. Had that trip last night for the first time in two weeks. I finished up at 1430 hours on Wednesday afternoon. I hung out with my wife for a couple hours. Did some sanding on the staircase. Showered and went to sleep at 1800.

I woke up at 2200. I made some cigarettes and filled my Thermos with coffee. My wife had already made my lunch. She's the best. I left for work around 2345.

After warming up my truck, kicking the tires and making sure there was a pallet jack in the trailer, I pulled away from The Dock at about 0015.

Route 28 southbound. I was lost in diesel driving dreams by the time I was passing exit 17. I don't have a get off 'til exit 8.

I think I write when I drive. In my head. Sometimes it's a song on the radio that gets it started. I usually listen to WDVE on the overnight. Last night they played some Zappa. The one about being a dental floss farmer in Montana. That will get your Writing Jones all fired up.

I saw Frank Zappa once. It was in New York and I was maybe fifteen or sixteen years old. I think it was Poughkeepsie. We took a bus and stayed with some cousins of a friend of mine. What a show. After the concert a bunch of us were hanging out in this park near the place we were all staying. The cops showed up and we all ran. That's what you did when the cops showed up. I remember running next to this girl. She had pretty red hair and I had tried to talk to her earlier in the evening. She didn't seem like she wanted to talk to me. Once we were running from the cops that changed. Now she was scared. I wasn't scared. I'd run from the cops before. I'd run from Jersey cops. And back in the seventies if you ran from Jersey cops you better make sure you got away.

So me and this girl run in a different direction from the rest of the group. One thing I knew about running from the cops was that it's better to split up. I had a feeling that the cops were more interested in chasing us out of the park than actually catching us.

(Years later when I was a cop myself, I found out how right I was that night in Poughkeepsie. Sometimes you just want to make people go away so you can have a quiet night in your zone.)

So it turns out that this girl's parents were on vacation. It turns out that her older brother who was supposed to be watching the house had gone fishing up in Vermont with some friends. It turns out that this nice looking seventeen year old red head had the house to herself. She was happy that I had stayed with her and helped her get away from the cops. I ended up staying with her for almost a week, even after her brother got back from fishing.

Yeah, so back to the overnight trip to Pittsburgh last night. I heard Frank Zappa on the radio. Like Robbie Robertson said, it was "sure stirrin' up some ghosts for me." That's what often feeds my Writing Jones. The Stirring. Good ghosts and bad ghosts. Take something real, like the Infamous Poughkeepsie Concert Trip and make something out of it........I really need to start writing again. And this time I think I know how to do it right.

I guess I've always had a thing for redheads.

Hey Tommy. Yeah, she has her last chemo infusion tomorrow. She's been getting sicker and sicker as the chemo builds up in her system. It's going to get worse before it gets better. Keep 'em up brother.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"I'd Like To Go For A Walk".

So it turns out that his turn for the worse was not. The abdominal pain that the docs said was cancer returning was caused by a urinary tract infection. It was the sudden high fever and some other stuff that gave them the clue. It was a hospice nurse who put two and two together. She came up with four. The docs sum total was five. The docs were wrong.

So my father was not standing with one foot on the banana peel. He is up and moving about for a few hours each day. He is talking politics. He is driving my mother crazy because he can't stand not being in charge anymore. He is on his way out. He is under hospice care. The massive doses of antibiotics just bought him some more time. He's digging that.

He's kind of like the old guy in Monty Python's Holy Grail. The one they want to put on the cart while he's still alive. The only difference is this. My father is holding the club.

Hey Tommy. It's been a while. Man what a couple of weeks I've had. I saw an elk the other day. Up on route 255 near the 555 split in Elk County, go figure. This big guy was munching on foliage by the side of the road. Steam would snort from his nostrils with each breath. It was kind of early, like 0630. I slowed down to get a look at him. The Jake Brake in my truck was doing it's thing, making that noise that it makes. That elk just looked over at my passing big truck with no interest at all. I have to find out how these elk ended up here in Pennsylvania.
I don't think their from here originally.

Hey Tommy. I just looked it up. As far as I can tell the elk are from here. Elk County is the only place any of them are left.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Close. Real Close.

My father is almost dead. It's been coming for some time. He's been ill. The grumpy old WWII vet is nearing the end of his more than eight decade run. I have to go see him next week. I hope he's still there.

My sister said he sings a lot these days. Old songs from the thirties and forties. Songs she does not always recognize. My sister thinks he sings because he's scared. I think she's right. It never seemed to me like he was scared of anything.

Like I've said before. Things were never very Cleaver at my house. My father drank and was often abusive. My sisters put up with a lot of verbal crap. I took most of the beatings. I put a stop to that when I was fourteen with a length of hardwood and a lot of determination. We didn't talk very much for about four years after that.

My father had a friend who was declared 4-F for medical reasons at the start of WWII. When my father left home at seventeen to serve his country, his friend's parents gave my father an old silver dollar. It was minted in the 1890's. It was a good luck charm. My father gave me that silver dollar when I enlisted.

He finally got sober when I was twenty-five.

He has lived a sober life for the last twenty-one years. He has gone out of his way to help others do the same. Giving guys rides to meetings. Standing by the phone. Helping out as much as he can. He has not been able to attend any meetings or help anyone out for over a year now. He has not been able to get out of bed for the last six weeks.

He deals with the pain. He will not take any pain killers. He wants to feel it all, even the worst of it. They have to give him small doses of morphine in pill form at night so he can sleep. They don't tell him what it is or he won't take it. They have to make the doses very light because he's down to less than one hundred and twenty pounds now.

My parents still do not know that my wife is fighting cancer. We don't want them to know. They have enough to deal with right now.

My father is not a happy person. I don't think he had much of a childhood. His father hung himself at a very young age. My father worked delivering papers, giving all but a nickel a week to his mother during the Depression. I know they went back to Denmark for a time. They came back here again. The war came next. Hard to imagine when you really think about it.

Maybe he will have some peace. Maybe God will grant him that. Just a little bit before he dies. He tells my sister that he goes for a walk every night. It's in his dreams but it's real to him. Maybe that's his peace. All I know is I have to see him one more time before he goes. I have to do that for me. I guess maybe a little bit for him as well. I just have something I need to say.

I'll know what it is when I get there.