I’ll Never Stop Trying

lost

What you’re seeing in the photo above is the end of my attempt this morning to help this half-starved and lost pit bull. At this point we’re  at St. Andrews and 36th, a couple blocks south of Jefferson, which is where I first sighted her a couple minutes earlier. We were both westbound on the boulevard on this rainy morning; me driving to work and the dog moving at a quick and furtive trot on the sidewalk looking way too skinny, scared and wet. I shook my head as I passed it, but then I saw some sort of tag on its collar and I remembered the baggie of dogfood, and spare leash I always carry with me just in case I can come to an animal’s rescue — be it temporary in the form of a snack or more permanent in the form of showing it some love and perhaps ultimately getting it back home or into a new one.

So far I’m batting zilch. Of all the stray critters I’ve encountered these past few months, one big dog on Venice Boulevard allowed me to pet it last week, but none have taken me up on my offers of food assistance  — and this gal was no exception.

I accelerated to get ahead of her and pulled a left turn, parking southbound on St. Andrews. Grabbing the food and the leash I exited my truck and strode back to Jefferson where she approached me from about 100 yards away. I whistled and knelt down, but the pit did not see me at first. When it did, about 25 yards away, she immediately broke left into a strip mall parking lot to detour around me. I knew right then it was a lost cause but I tacked right and tracked her heading through the lot to its St. Andrews exit. A jerky treat that I held up got no interest whatsover. In fact the dog’s trot picked up speed when she saw I was in pursuit so in vain I pitched the treat in an arc that landed about a dozen feet from her exiting the lot, That only succeeded in spookingher and she galloped south on St. Andrews.

Perhaps I should have given up there. But the fact that there was a tag on the collar left me with a glimmer of hope that this dog may have guardians who are missing it as much as it’s missing them. Certainly such evidence doesn’t preclude the animal’s abandonment, but more often than not anyone dumping an animal will strip it of any identification.

So I hustled back to the truck and got inside, the object of curious and direct glances from the locals who looked on probably wondering what kind of crazy this white guy must be to  be carrying nothing but a baggie full of kibble out in the ‘hood. And oh look, there goes the honkynut deeper into it.

Following behind the dog as it padded south, there was a split second after it crossed 35th and passed a female pedestrian at the corner, when it stopped and turned and regarded the lady obediently, but in a flash it had turned and again bolted down the street. Halfway down the block she stopped upon hearing me clucking my tongue at it and lingered long enough to let me dangle the baggie of kibble out the truck’s window and pour a bit out onto the street. Then she took off again and I lost sight of her behind some parked cars. Racing ahead and parking at 36th, I got out out with the kibble and crossed the street, pouring it in a little pile (it’s that brownish splotch on the sidewalk  just to the left of the red section of curb) before retreating back to the truck in hopes that she would find it.

Instead the pit beelined it to the gutterbag you see its muzzle buried in, finding some bread there. I had time to take the pic before it had wolfed that down and — totally ignoring the mound of kibble — again bolted south on St. Andrews. I watched it until it got beyond my sight, never slowing down.

And I choked up putting a circle of love around it as I got back on my way to work.

By The Way Will, How Are Your Fingers Doing that You Gouged On Your Bike’s Chainring This Weekend?

Better than they look. I’ve been dousing them pretty regularly with isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide (no, not at the same time), which has been key in minimizing what coulda/woulda been a gnarly infection since there’s still a fair amount of burning and bubbling of the respective liquids when applied. And I’ve been pretty persistent in keeping them slathered in antibiotic ointment and bandaged up, while also letting them out in the open air to make Susan go “Eeeeesh!” and to promote the healing that will replace the channels of flesh I plowed off of them as if with a linoleum knife.

Somewhat mercifully color-desaturated snap of the carnage as seen this morning, mercifully after the jump. You don’t have to go there if you don’t want to.

Continue reading By The Way Will, How Are Your Fingers Doing that You Gouged On Your Bike’s Chainring This Weekend?

A Death Over Our Heads

Susan called me at work yesterday afternoon. There was a nervousness to her voice that I picked up immediately and I feared one of our animals had been hurt.

“Joe’s passed away,” she told me. Joe was her tenant, the last of the three renters who occupied the house when she bought it in 1999. He lived upstairs since 1986. She said Joe’s brother was there and there were men in white coats and gloves and by the time I got home at 6 p.m. his body had been removed and all looked like nothing had happened.

I last saw Joe when I came down to the garage to help get the rest of the groceries out of Susan’s car Saturday afternoon. He was on the sidewalk talking with another man I didn’t recognize. I said hi to Joe as I started back up the front steps with the bags and he nodded back at me. Joe was HIV positive and in his 60s and in the last couple years his physical bearing had deteriorated significantly to the point of Susan and I wondering how much longer it would be until he needed hospice care. He moved slower and more stooped whenever I saw him and as of a few weeks ago I noticed a delivery of oxygen tanks standing outside his front door.

Joe’s brother said to Susan that he was told by the attendants that the death looked to be a result of natural causes and that given the condition of the body he may have expired sometime over weekend. Susan said she could smell the decomposition as the whitecoats struggled getting him out of the house. His brother told her he’d opened up the windows and turned on the air conditions to help air the place out. It’s weird to think of Joe’s body right over our heads for two days. Maybe more. And that he might have died while we sat watching television or grilling in the backyard.

Apparently, he was discovered earlier in the day by his weekly housekeeper. Whatever her reaction might have been it was enough to alert our neighbor Ralph across the street who phoned the police and Joe’s brother. The police came, as did the coroner. I’m guessing the whitecoats were mortuary personnel. Ralph told Joe’s brother that when he last talked to Joe he’d mentioned having trouble breathing.

I didn’t know much about Joe in the almost four-years Susan and I have been together here. The extent of our contacts pretty much involved passing each other on the way in or out. Our longest conversations involved him complimenting the Halloween or Christmas decorations or telling me something that wasn’t working properly. I knew he could be a pain in the butt, but he was the type of person that would vent his frustrations in a letter or an email or a voicemail message about Ranger’s barking or a malfunctioning heater other such matters and then follow up with an apology the next day. Most months that he paid his rent, he’d adorn the envelopes with a happy face. He’d worked for the city painting out graffiti. He had a pizza delivered Friday night. He drove an increasingly dinged-up Dodge Neon. He walked with a cane. He like the colors we painted the house last year. On occasions recently he took to listening to the TV with the volume way up. There’s an old Univega bike of his down in the basement.

Joe played a part in Susan and I meeting. He’d taken the picture of her that she’d posted to her match.com profile. It was taken from above, with her looking up into the camera and the light vibrantly illuminating her blond hair. In one of his missives sometime after I moved in during the summer of 2004 expressing his outrage over a rent increase or similar matter he even took a modicum of credit for our relationship because of that snapshot as if it somehow should exempt him from such things. I’m pretty sure he said he was sorry for the outburst shortly thereafter.

Joe’s brother said he hopes to have the place cleared out in a week or so. I can only imagine what a chore that will be packing up and moving 22 years worth of stuff, emotionally as well as physically. And in the meantime, Susan and I are obviously shellshocked not only at the reality check that comes with death, but one that happened so close to home.

Rest in peace, Joe.

The End Of Microfiction

I’m throwing in the towel. I had planned on writing something/anything fictional every day for the rest of this year, but after two months, I’m done — at least on a once-every-24-hours basis. In the more immediate time frame, after a morning on the bike and an afternoon helping my baybee in the backyard, I sat down and basically… I got nothing. I could let fly some frivolity at the peril of the Quakzons of Planet Zarneg, but pffft.

I still hope to post my make believings, I just ain’t gonna do it every. single. day. Thanks for reading, be it one entry or all 61.

Two Sides To Every Smile

I deviated the route slightly this morning, taking Vermont all the way down to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which I stayed on across to Leimert Park.

At MLK I rolled to a stop before the red light at Normandie and from the sidewalk behind me at my four o’clock walked a petite woman perhaps somewhere in her 40s directly towards me who when I turned to look at her responded to my attention with a very kindly smile that I returned with a head nod as she passed alongside me and then into the crosswalk across my bow.

As she advanced to the other side of MLK my smile disappeared when I saw that strapped behind her to her belt was a sheath that held a long fixed-blade knife, its carved handle sticking straight up and next to it a two-way radio.

It left me realizing how different a world it is down in that area where one would chose not to walk its streets  at 8:30 in the morning without someone on the other end of a walkie-talkie and a ready-to-filet Bowie-type knife on display.

Little Is Coincidental

I try to be a firm believer in things happening for a reason — good or bad. Sometimes I’ll get into arguments with myself about that adage over the little things… like what could possibly be the purpose of that ding I got from some sunzabeech in my truck’s door in the parking lot where I work yesterday (answer: all the more reason to ride my bike!), but with the bigger-picture events I pretty much accept it without debate.

For example, take me reconnecting with my old friend Russell last week. After finding me via the internest a week earlier and exchanging emails, last Thursday I biked up from work to Mar Vista where I met his wife Jessica and then he took me out to dinner at this wonderful Japanese grill place called Sakura House on Washington Boulevard where we had a great time climbing over the 17-year wall that had built up between us. Afterward back at his house I did my best not to drool over the two tricked out Harleys he showed me in his garage.

In the course of the evening we talked about a bunch of stuff, including our mutual friend Mark Burton who Russell is still very much in-touch with and who I haven’t seen in about as long as it had been since I’d last seen Russell. Since only a few weeks before that I was participating in that downtown storytellers project at the Music Center in which the downtown story I attempted to share was the one involving Mark’s father, I asked about Mr. Burton and was surprised to learn from Russell that he was still alive considering he’s now well into his 70s and spent the last 21-years of his life in prison.

When I said goodnight to Russell later that night I asked him to pass my regards along to Mark in the hopes that the three of us could get together one day soon and throw back a nostaligic sixer of Mickey’s or Killian’s Red (our beers of choice back then) maybe in our old haunt that I called Crossroads Park (Now Will Rogers Park) in between the Beverly Hills Hotel and the intersections of several of that city’s residential streets.

Russell certainly made good on my request and the next morning I found an enthusiastic email from Mark which I answered. In a follow-up I asked about his mom and sister and (even though I figured it was a sensitive subject) his dad because I wanted him to know how much I appreciated the two of them coming to my rescue back when I was arrested in 1982 for being a stupid 18-year-old with a .22 rifle.

Several days went by and no response came from Mark. I chalked it up to what certainly was his busy work schedule, but by yesterday I finally broached the subject in a quick note to him in hopes that was indeed the case and that I hadn’t offended him.

I was relieved to get his email back saying yes he’d been busy and no there’d been no offense taken, and then I was heartbroken by his news that a large part of the reason he hadn’t been able to respond was that his father, who had been ill for quite some time, had taken a grave turn over the weekend and died early that Tuesday morning up in Vacaville. He told me he’d keep me informed of the funeral plans and when he let me know this morning that his father is to be buried this Sunday at noon I told him I’d be honored to attend.

And while it may not be beers in the park as I’d wished, I want to make that clear that I will be honored to stand with my old friends at the ceremony for Mark’s father, a man who when I stood bitter and brooding at the threshold of a very dark path stepped up to my aid when no one else would or could and turned me from it with quiet kindness and understanding and a helping hand.