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At the Well of Conduction
Gimp Graphomania #1: Pittsburgh, PA, 6/27/2023
© 2023 James LaFond
Datz rite Groe, you drunk, back dat shid up!
Yes sir, baked up.
Punky was somewhat flumuxxed moments ago when I asked her to mix 2 shots of rum into each of my three morning coffees…
It has been 7 days since Doc Dread informed me that my knee was “structurally sound” and then showed me by way of x-ray cartoon shadow that “your spine is compressed.” He then shot me in the lumbar with magic juice and Young Brett ushered me fourth into the world, five minutes with THE MAN having tought me more about by structural dysintegrity than 3 hours at urgent care.
“James,” says the strapping stud, “Doc looks tired. Back in the day he was never tired.”
What a fine young man—took me to pharmacy, bank, pharmacy, diner, back to the Brickmouse House, where he handed me off to the stud who retired me from stick in May and said, “We ought to spar some time,” and as Brick Mouse shook hands and swallowed hard, edited, “easy like, no ego, just technique.”
After he left and Brickmouse, more of an over-built creature like me than the apex HE, while helping me through spinal decompression evolutions counseled, “James, it would be an honor to help Brett prepare to Smack down other cavemen. However, for me, that is a hurdle too far—let me see if I can decompress this for you.”
And we fall together as a team: the Titan, the Artificer and the Empathetic Genius: one boldly, decently striding, one sympathetically conniving and one actively caring. We are the three Monkeys of Could: beast, brain and heart.
Brett took my scripst in. But I would have to pick them up, because one was an opiate pain killer. I wanted to cry when I asked Doc for that and he shook his head and gave me another chance to pussy out and I did… this man, 2 years ago got crushed by a tree and took not an asprin and I, shaken and craven had asked for the mercy of the Poppy.
I was experiencing the myopic selfishness of the critically spent, unsure of those around me. Brett, patiently stalking me as I hobbled a-crutch back to the pharmacy, took control as old ladies looking at me with fear, like I would would die and them be unable to aid though near, would ask if I was in line, and Brett’s strong, clear, commanding voice would say, with a note of kindness, “Ma’am, our script is not filled yet—you go ahead,” and I would nod thankfully, as if it was something gracious I had said.
What a man.
28, I think.
I was stocking shelves and sneaking by hoodrats on my way to work.
He is training with British SAS troopers, a Gurkha, even, at Fort Dicks, and returning to thank me for, “Being there for me when I was young.” [2]
I try not to cry.
He tries not to notice.
“James,” he says, before we pull off into the gathering rain, which I did not realize until then always gathered anew about a hopeful mane, “I knew, when you told me that you were too bad off to lay it down [1] that you were bad off. So I’m here, whatever you need, James.”
I felt like Nestor being put to tender bed by Achilles.
The next morning, after Brickmouse had tended me and I took 5 hours making my guest bed and clearing the visitor deck, he came home from a hard day at work and drove me to Megan, the loyal cook and wife of the wandering creep who she knows, damn well stops off first to see Miss Ezz, and says, “So nice to meet you, Megan. I believe I will see you tomorrow. Please take came of him—he’s not very good at it.”
She sucks off her cigg and blurts, as the Mexicans marvel at a white guy double parked, “He’s a dumbass and a half, Baby,” thanks for bringing Poppy home.”
As he leaves and I practice traction on the crutches she wonders at his departure, “Fuckin’ Keeanu Reeves with Patrick Swazzy’s ass—and God let you hit that with a stick—no wonder your buggered up! Well, here’s to the view!”
“Fawk, babe!, I’m dyin’ here.”
The second brother of the two next door, the brawny Mexican who told me once upon a Negro Shewing time, “Don’t worry Poppy, we got this!” came home and looked at me, hobbling on the porch, “Poppy, what happened?”
I could tell by the look in his eyes he hoped dearly that I had not fallen prey to Negroes.
What a man, like Brett and Brickmouse, about 5’ 11” and all muscle. I immediately save the next feral Negroe to skulk through the hood and say, “Oh, my rucksack was too heavy—should not have tried to make off with all of Cibolla’s gold!”
He pats me on the shoulder and reminds, “Poppy” if you need anything, I am here!”
I get it, the strong, the striving and the raw young, they crave that example of the Fallen that snarls, “Never done,” and it helps in there quest to become.
The next day, a Friday I think, five days past, I spend 2 hours relearning how to walk and stand. I check my phone and Megan has texted me at 7:27 A.M.: “Saw Keeanu first thing, what a beautiful man!”
“Yes, babe. I hit him with a stick once and then he put me down… and yes, his wife is a beautiful as you imagine and I never look twice…”
“Fawkig lyin’ dawg!” she texts back and all is rite in the world.
At 10:45 I head out a-crutch to Eastern Avenue to get the Essex, Whispering Woods or Franklin Square bus to Stemmers Run, were I will board the Towson bus and meet The Man in the Hat, Father of Brett, at Towson Town Center. Our land Lady, Georgia, widow of such a better man than me, Bruce, Megan’s oldest brother, say, “You be careful now, come back to us.”
I had been supposed to sand and paint that porch of hers that I now limped off of into the gathering rain.
It takes a half hour for me to get 5 blocks!
I get soaked in the rain and two tractor trailers stop and wave me across Rolling Mill Road. I must look near death for these Jippos to shed a care.
I am covering old ground. In 1993, I came here by night to work at the supermarket—now I pass it by by the morning light. The original back injury put me out of work here, exactly 30 years ago setting me on this course.
I board the bus and the driver says, “Money man, it but $2 dollars to take this shuttle can, Big Money—Big Money!” and I fed those two ones into the meter, confident that the next bus would have a broken meter and that there was no need to buy a $4.80 ticket.
Aboard the bus, I receive 2 pics of me crutching along Rolling Mill from Brickmouse, who had been working on the rack system above Megan’s job site, accompanied by a text, “You are moving better today!”
Afoot for four minutes, I boarded the bus for Towson and the meter was jammed—go figure, and arrives in Towson at 12:30, 30 minutes ahead of The Man In the Hat.
He is stuck in traffic and I turn and see The Brass Tap, “I’ll be in the Brass Tap, bro,” text I, and by the time I get into the place, past the other, fatter, blacker negro on crutches outside, I recall that The Operator had paid me $300 for “talking to me about stuff that would melt a psychiatric brain” and decide I’m buying.
Confidence thus extruded, I get up on a stool and see Kelly Blake form Portland’s favorite drink, Apple Crown, and order, a double shot, a Bud Light, and salt shaker.
By the time The Man in the Hat entered, and I introduced him as “My brother,” the decks were cleared for his trademark deprecation, “Miss, you are beautiful and the bar is well appointed… But how can I sit down and enjoy myself in a place where you admit a one-eyed pirate—with one leg no less?”
“Oh, because he’s a perfect gentlemen sir!”
“Oh,” says he, “Only because he hasn’t been able to lurch off that bar stool and haul you off—I will remove the reprobate from your midst, miss!”
I smile at her and turn to him, “Like that, Bro? She thought I had money—now I’m your red-headed step brother?”
“Pretty much.”
My scrap-made brothers and fate-made caretakers—I thank you.
-1. I had a Wednesday morning date with Miss Ezz, my darling top girl, a shorty who could raise the dead, even drunk and morning fled, a loyal, lusty girl of some 30 years, which I canceled, for fear that she would look at me and cry rather than…
-2. I discover while talking with his father 2 days later that he had written the Dog Brothers and they never got back to him, even though he had bought there products. He is probably the third best stick fighter in the world, and they snubbed him. He would never tell me such a thing, pitting he mentor [me] against his hero [Top Dog] for he is us come together, and senses it as a her should. As the ladies at the diner gawked at him and I eyes his shoulder I said, “What is your nickname in the army?” he grinned, “Shoulders, as soon as they saw me they said I was hauling the SAW.”
Summer 2023 Writing Journal
author's notebook
Foreground Noise
the fighting edge
winter of a fighting life
on the overton railroad
broken dance
'in these goings down'
america the brutal
book of nightmares
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